Poland striker Robert Lewandowski avoided serious injury during his country’s FIFA World Cup qualifying clash with Romania on Friday, as a firecracker thrown from the stands onto the pitch exploded in close proximity to the Bayern Munich man.
As reported by Reuters (via the Guardian), the blast from the flare prompted the match in Bucharest, Romania, to be suspended for 10 minutes, with the shock of the ignition leaving the 28-year-old grounded. Eventually, after treatment, Lewandowski was able to return to the field.
Footage of the incident, which shows the forward making the referee aware of the object, can be seen here courtesy of the Sporting Anderlecht Twitter feed:
According to Alex Richards of the Daily Mirror, another flare thrown from the stands earlier in the game had damaged the top of one of the goal nets. Fighting is also said to have broken out during the clash between the two sets of supporters.
Despite the close call, the Bayern man was able to find the net twice in the second period; his brace came after Kamil Grosicki gave Poland an early lead, rounding off a crucial 3-0 win for the visitors as they seek to secure their spot at the Russia World Cup. Prior to the match, Poland sat in second place in Group E behind Montenegro, who lost 3-2 to Armenia earlier in the day. The day's events allowed Poland to move into first place.
As we can see here courtesy of Squawka Football, Lewandowski has a remarkable record in international fixtures:
The near miss triggered memories of a similar incident that occurred during the match between Croatia and the Czech Republic at the UEFA European Championship in France in the summer. During the 2-2 draw, a firecracker thrown on to the playing surface exploded near a steward as he sought to remove it from the field in Saint-Etienne.