Preamble You wait five years and then it's over in a flash. Enough about your love life (honk! Ho-honk!), let's consider the increasing woes of those who host the European Championship and World Cup. Hosts ain't what they used to be. In ten of the 11 Euros and World Cups between 1988 and 2006, at least one of the hosts made the semi-finals. The hosts in the last two, however – Austria and Switzerland in 2008, South Africa in 2010 – did not only fail to make the semis, they went out in the first round. It's bad enough leaving your own party at any stage, but if you've collapsed into bed before the beer in the bath has run out, well, that's fairly embarrassing.

Ukraine started well last night, although death by Two Banks of Four awaits them, while Poland are in big danger of going out in the first round. They need to win one of their last two games, against Russia and the Czech Republic, to have a chance of qualifying. That may not sound like much ('football team asked to win football match' scandal; they'll be asking fluffers to fluff next!) but they have never won a European Championship match before, and their lamentably anxious second-half performance against 10-man Greece – when they did not so much look a gift horse in the mouth as run away from it weeping – reminded us that few things in life are as terrifying as the prospect of getting that which you crave.

If they can't beat 10-man Greece, you have to worry about their chances against 11-man Russia, who were perhaps the most impressive team of the first set of fixtures when they hammered the Czechs 4-1. Russia played with a delicious fusion of mischief, urgency* and an arrogance that verged on contempt.

How can you not love watching Russia? In an age of homogeneity they remain unique; in an age of globalisation and the internet they have retained their mystique. In England we know some of the players but we don't truly recognise them: the Andriy Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Yuri Zhirkov who play for Russia are barely distant cousins of the Andriy Arshavin, Roman Pavlyuchenko and Yuri Zhirkov who flopped in the Premier League.

* A quality that has been conspicuous by its absence in this tournament thus far. When did football become so ponderous?

The teams Poland's reserve keeper Przemyslaw Tyton – we tried to get Paul Merson to do this game just because of him – comes in for the suspended Wojciech Szczesny, who was sent off for persistent ineptitude against Greece. That's one of two changes, with Dariusz Dudka coming in for Maciej Rybus. Russia, not surprisingly, are unchanged.

Poland (4-2-3-1): Tyton; Piszczek, Wasilewski, Perquis, Boenisch; Dudka, Polanski; Blaszczykowski, Murawski, Obraniak; Lewandowski. Subs: Sandomierski, Wojtkowiak, Kaminski, Matuszczyk, Rybus,
Wawrzyniak, Sobiech, Mierzejewski, Wolski, Grosicki, Brozek.

Russia (4-3-3): Malafeev; Aniukov, Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Shirokov, Denisov Zyryanov; Dzagoev, Kerzhakov, Arshavin.
Subs: Akinfeev, Sharonov, Izmailov, Pavlyuchenko, Kombarov, Kokorin,
Granat, Pogrebnyak, Nababkin, Glushakov, Semshov, Shunin.

Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany)

The permutations Russia will be through if they win. Poland won't, but a win here would mean they only need to draw their last game. For both sides, there might not be much difference between a draw and a defeat in this match. Russia will have to draw their last game to be certain of qualification whether they draw or lose, while Poland will have to beat the Czech Republic to have a chance of qualifying if they don't win tonight. I think*.

* Guardian.co.uk is not legally responsible should it transpire that these permutations have been worked out by a dunderhead and are hopelessly erroneous

The least surprising news of the day is that there has been plenty of violence before the match. Around 5,000 Russian fans celebrated Russia Day by planning a march to the stadium, during which they clashed with police and Polish fans. There was trouble in the centre of Warsaw as well. You can read about it here.

Pre-match email "U have to love a game fuelled by historical animosity and national expectations on home turf attempting to be met by the plucky but hapless underdog," says Emma Caddy. "I predict handbags all around for this one. Russia will overwhelm."

Oh, do Poland and Russia not like each other? I didn't learn much history at school. They did not teach history behind the bike sheds, yeah?

Tactical analysis Both sides will be endeavouring to score more goals than each other.

The atmosphere is sensational. This is all.

"A German ref for Poland v Russia?" hmmms Robery Svihila. "What could possibly go wrong?"

Someone was always going to say it, and dear old Peter Drury has said it: "More than a game."

1 min Poland kick off from left to right. They are in white; Russia are in red.

2 min "Can it be right that all the 'experts' know of polish football is that Brian Clough once called some Polish chap a clown 40 years ago?" says David Leach. "Which means that pundits are merely referencing other punditry as a form of analysis." Self-referential punditry is an improvement on the BBC, surely.

3 min A dangerous through ball from Arshavin has just a little too much on it for Kerzhakov. The contest between Arshavin and Piszczek, Poland's brilliant attacking right-back, will be fascinating. I say 'contest'; presumably once Piszczek crosses the halfway line Arshavin will announce he's NMFP.

5 min The marauding Russian right-back Anyukov, who was relatively subdued on Friday, wins the first corner. It's taken short by Arshavin and eventually headed clear.

6 min Polanski wins a soft free kick down the right wing after a shoulder charge from Zhirkov. It's swung in beautifully by the left-footed Obraniak and dips late to find Boenisch, who stoops to head from goal from only four yards out. Somehow Malafeev saves with his feet. It was either a lucky save or a brilliant save; I suspect the latter, although Boensich should have given him no chance.

8 min "It's a blessed relief that the 2014 World Cup and 2016 European Championships are going to Brazil and France respectively – the former mastered international football, the latter invented it, both have a rich heritage in the game and will be strong enough to at the very least have a long run in the competition to sustain the public interest," says Mike Gibbons. "That might sound horribly elitist but international football tournaments are, that's why you need to qualify. I can't wait for Qatar 2022 either."

Preach on. The hosts' journey (for desperate want of a better word, now that reality TV has ruined the word 'journey') is an enormous part of any tournament. I'd say Italy in 1990 just about top the list.

10 min The game has started encouragingly. Russia are inevitably dominating possession but Poland look menacing and urgent on the counter attack.

11 min What a cracking effort from Lewandowski. A long ball was headed down to him 20 yards from goal, and he thighed it up in the air before welting a fierce left-footed volley over the bar.

12 min Perquis makes a desperate and excellent challenge on Kerzhakov, who had broken into the Poland area. There was a muted appeal for a penalty but nothing really.

13 min Perquis gashed his shin in making that tackle and is off receiving treatment. Does anyone remember Jaap Stam getting stitches above his eye during the Holland/Czech game at Euro 2000? Some fella was wielding all manner of sharp implements approximately 0.0000001cm from Stam's eyeball, and he did not flinch once.

14 min Perquis is back on, although he's still wincing. Whatever happened to Gary Cooper?

15 min "Your preamble illustrates perfectly why Scotland should never host a major tournament Rob," says Simon McMahon. "Not only would we collapse into bed early, we would throw up on the carpet and drop our trousers in front of our new girlfriend's mother before doing so."

16 min Kerzhakov, who had such a shocker against the Czech Republic, looks sharp and dangerous. He is constantly up against the last man, looking to break in behind.

18 min A wonderful goal from Polanski is disallowed for offside. Apart a series of short first-time passes, Lewandowski put Polanski through to beat Malafeev, but he was a couple of paces beyond the last defender when the ball was played.

19 min "All this talk about how awesome Russia were the other night is masking the fact that they were dreadful for the first 15 minutes," says Matt Dony. "If the Czechs had slightly more nous about them, they could've been a few goals to the good straight off. If Poland come out swinging, they could put Russia under some real pressure. Come on, bring the excitement!" It's a fair comment, but then Barcelona were crap for the first 10 minutes of the 2009 European Cup final. The other 80, not so crap. The same here.

21 min Poland are playing really well. They attack with so much speed and have looked more penetrative than Russia.

23 min A dangerous, driven low cross from Murawski on the right almost comes to first Blaszczykowski and then Lewandowski before Anyukov boots clear.

25 min Arshavin's clipped cross is headed wide by Kerzhakov, 10 yards from goal. It was a difficult chance as he was backpedalling and there was no pace on the ball to work with.

26 min Another booming, inswinging free-kick from Obraniak is headed towards goal by Wasilewski and comfortably saved by Malafeev.

27 min A superb low cross from Kerzhakov on the right just evades Arshavin at the near post.

28 min Kerzhakov shoots from distance. You don't need me to tell you what happens next. That's his ninth attempt at goal in his tournament. Can you guess how many have been on target? (Clue: bugger all.)

29 min As good as Poland have been, full of pride and hunger, it will worry them that they have only created one chance, and that Russia can clearly play better. Russia have been a bit woolly and imprecise in the final third.

32 min The hitherto anonymous Dzagoev drills an angled cross straight out of play. Russia are not, in the parlance of our time, on it.

33 min Tactics update: Arshavin and Dzagoev have switched wings. And both sides are still endeavouring to score more goals than each other.

35 min Russia have had 59 per cent of the possession so far, although Poland have been more dangerous. Possession, Sir John Betjeman, is overrated.

THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING 'BOUT! Poland 0-1 Russia (Arshavin 37) Oh what an excellent goal this is. It's all down to a brilliant inswinging free-kick from Arshavin on the left. It dipped over the first bank of defenders to find Dzagoev, who made an excellent run away from the negligent Piszczek and then flicked it across Tyton into the far corner from six yards. In fact it came off his shoulder, but the ball in was exquisite. It's Dzagoev's third goal of the tournament. Poland will be annoyed with it, mind: Piszczek lost his man, and there was far too big a gap for Dzagoev to run into. That goal was a good advert for zonal marking.

39 min Malafeev beats away a vicious, almost angry rising shot from Blaszczykowski, who was 20 yards out to the right of the near post.

41 min As things stand, Russia are through and Poland need to beat the Czechs on Saturday. But they needed to beat the Czechs at 0-0 anyway, so it doesn't make much difference.

42 min Kerzhakov plays a one-two with Zyryanov on the right and puts in a menacing low cross towards Dzagoev. Wasilewski, stretching, boots it behind for a corner. It's drilled well beyond the far post to Zhirkov on the edge of the area – think of those famous goals by Scholes, Mendieta and Matthaus – but he scuffs his volley wide.

45 min Poland are looking really nervous now. Russia counter with smooth purpose, with the ball eventually moved to Kerzhakov on the left side of the box. His attempted outside-in curler to the far post is blocked; then, when the loose ball is dumped back into the box, one of the Poland defenders knocks Dzagoev over with a soft if clumsy shoulder challenge. That could easily have been a penalty, but the assistant referee puts his flag up and it's a free kick to Poland. Was that for offside? It must have been, although it didn't seem like anybody was offside.

Half time: Poland 0-1 Russia After mincing like a butterfly for 37 minutes, Russia stung like a bee with a clinical opening goal. Poland, who have played well, have a job on now.

Aidan Curran is my new favourite hero "Here's a video with Jaap Stam getting stitches at Euro 2000, impassive like an Easter Island statue," says Aidan. "I don't speak Dutch so I presume that's what the song in the video is celebrating. He's getting his cheek stitched, though I had always thought it was his eyebrow.

If you can't read the Pulitzer-winning description of Dzagoev's goal, please press F5. We're having problems with the auto-refresh.

Half-time chit-chat "Russia seems like a real throwback to the international teams of old, where they have an innate chemistry that allows them to play so well as a unit and (often) not play nearly as well when dispersed amongst other clubs," says Tony Ling. "I can see many of these players, especially Dzagoev, moving after the tournament on large fees, and I can see them bombing just as Arshavin & Co. did (although, lest we forget, that first half-season for Arshavin he was an offensive model)."

Russian teams have often been like that. I think there are seven Zenit players in this XI, while Lobanovsky picked almost the same team for Kiev and the USSR in 1986. What a bloody team that late-1980s USSR side was.

"Hello," hellos Sally Ledger. "Am I being completely blind or is the Russian goal not mentioned in your MBM??"

No it's not you; I just couldn't be bothered to describe it. (We have a problem with the auto-refresh. If you press F5 it should appear.)

46 min Ahem. I was so busy peeling a banana and chatting to Barry Glendenning that I missed the start of the second half. Anyway, it has started.

46 min Poland almost equalise within 45 seconds of the kick off. Polanski's angled ball puts Lewandowski clear on Malafeev, but the ball is running away from goal and, although he moves around the keeper, there is no angle for him to put it into the net first time or Jamesmilner it wide. Instead he stops the ball on the touchline and tries to stick it back into the area, but Malafeev blocks to concede a corner on the left. It's headed over by Boenisch, 12 yards from goal. He couldn't quite get over the ball. With hindsight Lewandowski should have trip to clip that over Malafeev first time, although that would have been very difficult.

47 min "I've just pressed F5 on my macbook & now it's saying loads of weird shit," says Dave Carr. "Thanks ROB!" I said 'press F5' not 'type devianteasterneuropeanbongo.com' into a browser.

48 min "So," says Philip Bloomfield, "is 'arry gone from Spurs. Triffic rumour." Nah, he's released a statement denying it. Another triumph for Twitter, the internet and England.

50 min A thrilling run from Zhirkov, all the way to the touchline inside the area, ends with a cutback that just escapes Kerzhakov at the near post. Moments later, Malafeev flew from his goal to bravely punch clear just as Lewandowski was shaping to volley another beautiful ball in from Obraniak on the right.

52 min Zhirkov finds Arshavin, who pitter-patters menacingly into the box on the left, darting between a couple of defenders before toebunging the ball across goal and well wide. Arshavin oozes danger every time he gets the ball.

54 min "Kerzhakov should have been boiled down for glue at half-time, but it can't be done," says Mac Millings. "Even if he were dropped from directly above the giant cauldron, he'd manage to slice himself five yards wide."

55 min This game is crazily open at the moment. Zhirkov, stretching, slices an attempted half-volley at goal from 10 yards.

GOAL! Poland 1-1 Russia (Blaszczykowski 57) What a goal from the captain Jakub Blaszczykowski! It could have been 2-0, but Russia messed up a four-on-three break and 20 seconds later it was 1-1. The impressive Obraniak played a neat pass to Blaszczykowski down the right, inside the full back Zhirkov. An excellent first touch took him infield, across the line of the penalty area and past another defender; the second was even better, a storming rising drive on the run that swerved late and flew into the far corner. Malafeev had not a solitary prayer. What a goal! There is delirium in the stadium, and in the ITV commentary box. "One for presidents and peasants!" says Peter Drury. No, me either.

59 min And now there is nawtiness. Lewandowski is booked for a foul on Denisov, who is also booked for a retaliatory kick.

61 min "What did I say?" says Emma Caddy. "Eastern bloc handbags are out!"

64 min Russia have moved up a gear, as you'd expect. As we said earlier, there isn't much difference between a draw and a defeat for either team, so they can play with more freedom than might usually be the case in this situation.

66 min What a moment that was in the life of Jakub Blaszczykowski. Some of you might not know his backstory: as a child he saw his father stab his mother to death.

68 min Russia are looking really dangerous. Dzagoev plays a slick one-two with Kerzhakov (I think) and slides a sidefooted shot towards the far corner from 12 yards. Tyton gets down to his right to save. Dzagoev didn't quite get hold of it.

69 min This is great entertainment. The game is lurching back and forth like the contents of a wino's stomach. Poland burst down the other end, and Polanski's fierce low shot from the right edge of the six-yard box is blocked by the legs of Malafeev.

70 min Russia make the first change, with Roman Pavyluchenko replacing Alexsandr Kerzhakov. Kerzhakov still has barn-door issues but his movement was outstanding.

73 min Poland make their first substitution, with Adrian Mierzejewski replacing Dariusz Dudka.

74 min "Ooh, the Polish left back didn't Boenisch his reputation with that wild cross," honks Mac Millings.

75 min This game is ludicrously open. It's brilliant, like something out of the 1980s. Both teams are actually trying to win the game rather than not lose it. I know.

76 min Dzagoev is booked for dissent. Obraniak, with that wonderful left foot, opens the game by finding Boenisch on the left. He zips infield between two players before blootering the ball high and wide from 25 yards.

77 min "I think there is a difference between a loss and a draw for Poland," says Tom Sullivan. "If they lose to Russia and beat the Czechs, they finish with four points, the Czechs with three. But if Greece then beats Russia, the Greeks would have four and the Russians six, so I think it would go down to goal difference between the Poles and the Greeks. On the other hand, if they draw with Russia and beat the Czechs, they would have five, and be through no matter what." That's all true, but it does really on Greece beating Russia. Exactly.

79 min "Are you cutting and pasting Blaszczykowski's name?" says Dave Carr. "Despite the fact that I personally find it easy to spell Blaszczykowski repeatedly in quick succession off the top of my head, I'm curious about the last Blaszczykowski based update where you wrote Blaszczykowski three times in two sentences was suspect. Blaszczykowski." A gentlemen never tells. A gentlemen never tells. A gentlemen never tells. A gentlemen never tells. A gentlemen never tells. A gentlemen never tells. A gentlemen never tells. A gentlemen never tells. A gentlemen never tells. Yes.

79 min Another Russia substitution, with the goalscorer Dzagoev replaced by Marat Izmailov.

81 min Another brisk Poland counter-attack, involving A gentlemen never tells Blaszczykowski and Lewandowski, ends with Obraniak hitting a low cross-shot that is saved comfortably by the sprawling Malafeev.

82 min Polanski was booked a couple of minutes ago for a tackle on Zhirkov. I missed it as I was peeling a banana. Anyway he injured himself in the process and is going to go off I think.

83 min There is no sense of either side settling for a draw. It's unusual and refreshing. In fact, the game could barely be more open if both sets of players had been told they would have their genitalia introduced to a cattle prod in the event of a draw.

84 min Who is this "Obraniak"? He looks a fine player, with a left foot that should forever be described as 'educated'. Polanski limps off to be replaced by Adam Matuszczyk.

85 min "I hope the English players are watching the Poles," says Robert Johnson. "This is what it means to play for your country." Yep, they have been wonderful. When you live in England for so long you forget that patriotism can have positive manifestations.

86 min Perhaps now the game is just drifting to sleep, with both teams taking spells to pass it around at the back. I'd imagine both sides are shattered, particularly Poland. The Polish fans are still going strong, mind. The atmosphere is stunning.

88 min Russia have had the ball for the last three minutes. They are in no hurry now. A draw here leaves them in control of the group, and needing only a draw against Greece in the final game.

90 min Now Poland have a spell of possession, with a degree more urgency but still not much. Both sides look shattered after what has been such an emotional game. There will be three added minutes.

90+1 min A gorgeous one-two between Zhirkov and Arshavin ends with Zhirkov bursting into the area on the left. He stumbles under pressure from Piszczek – I don't think there was any question of a penalty – and can't get enough on his cutback. Poland clear.

90+3 min Poland make their final change, bringing on Pawel Brozek for the outstanding Ludovic Obraniak. That's a strange change, because Poland have a free-kick down the right wing, and Obraniak's delivery is outstanding. Obraniak has the face on and has just had a moan at the manager Smuda. The free-kick is swung in anyway and just away from Brozek.

Full time: Poland 1-1 Russia That was a highly enjoyable, almost innocent game of football, with a draw a fair result. The upshot is that Russia need to draw with Greece on Saturday evening, while Poland must beat the Czech Republic. That will be quite the occasion, and on this performance you'd fancy them to win. Poland v Germany in the quarter-finals – which could well happen – would be an even greater occasion. Thanks for your emails; night.