With literally minutes left on the clock, two substitutes combined to set off a sea of German flags.

In front of his local crowd, Borussia Dortmund midfielder David Odonkor sent in a cross for substitute striker Oliver Neuville to slide home and put the ball, finally, in the back of the net.

The Poles had defended gallantly for long stretches as they attempted to give their World Cup hopes the lift they needed.

Things got a lot harder when they lost midfielder Radoslaw Sobolewski for a second bookable offence.

Any thoughts of Poland scoring a winner went out the window then as the team bunkered down in the penalty box and attempted to stop wave upon wave of German attack.

Goal keeper Artur Borac was moments away from being the hero of the night as he pulled off a string of stunning saves.

Notably, his two efforts on 80 minutes as he repelled first man of the match Philipp Lam, and then Neuville were from the top shelf.

Fate also seemed to be on the side of the visitors when as regulation time ended striker Miroslav Klose and captain Michael Ballack both hit the crossbar to seemingly deny Germany a victory.

It wasn’t the case as moments later the man who replaced golden boy Lukas Podolski became the toast of his nation and almost certainly condemned Poland to an early exit from the Cup.

The first half saw the two teams locked in a classic footballing arm wrestle with neither side able to score.

The Polish defence had improved vastly since their disappointing opener against Ecuador, although their attack did little to trouble German keeper Jens Lehnmann.

Germany didn’t fare much better.

Much was made about the Polish heritage of the two strikers Klose and Podolski and they both let the country of their birth off the hook by missing glaring chances.

Werder Bremen’s Klose was the more serious offender missing an open goal with a header on 21 minutes.

With the last kick of the half Bayern Munich bound Podolski skewed the ball past the post when it looked easier to score.

The only real chance to Poland came earlier in the half from Celtic striker Maciej Zurawski, but German keeper Jens Lehmann was more than a match for the effort.