Photos: Euro 2012: Czech, Greece Advance to Quarterfinals, Russia Dumped Out
By IBTimes Staff Reporter | Jun 17, 2012 08:04 AM EDT
Greece and the Czech Republic have upset quite a few people and certainly co-hosts Poland and group favourites Russia, to advance from Group A of the 2012 European Championships, in second and first place, respectively.
Greece - Russia:
The 2004 European Champions used all of their experience and resolve to register a 1-0 win in Warsaw, over a Russian side heavily favoured to win with style.
The victory and the prospect of playing in the quarterfinals, against one of Germany, Portugal or Denmark (depending on how results in Group B pan out) will bring some much-needed joy to the country which is struggling under a Eurozone crisis.
It was a goal by captain Giorgos Karagounis - one of the stars of their Euro 2004 triumph - that gave them the victory. Russia's unexpected fall was complete after news of a second half goal by Petr Jiracek filtered through; the result in other game - a 1-0 win for the Czech over co-hosts Poland - meant grup stage exits for both the Russians and the Polish.
In a match that saw Russia dominate possession (69 percent), the Greeks took the lead against the run of play and on the stroke of half-time, when Karagounis capitalised on a misplaced header by Sergey Ignashevich by surging into the area and placing a low shot past Vyacheslav Malafeev.
Dick Advocaat's team continued to control the tempo of the game even after the break but Greece had genuine claims for a penalty turned down when Karagounis was brought down in the box on the hour mark. Instead, the referee awarded the skipper a yellow card for diving.
Russia's best chance to grab the equaliser came late on when Arsenal's Andriy Arshavin found young star Alan Dzagoev. However, the CSKA Moscow man's header flew just wide, after seeming to be drifting in.
Greece defended brilliantly in the latter stages to keep the Russians at bay.
Poland - Czech Republic:
The Poles had the best of the early possession in their game at Wroclaw, particularly near the opponent's goal but the best chance of the first half fell to the Czech's Vaclav Pilar. The winger, who already has two goals to his name, turned up unmarked in the Polish box only to completely mishit his shot.
Franciszek Smuda's side looked threatening throughout the half, with captain Jakub Blaszczykowski being the livewire. The only problem was the Borussia Dortmund midfielder and his team mates failed to finish their chances and would pay for their profligacy.
It was goalless at the break but the Czechs broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute. Striker Milan Baros linked up well with Petr Jiracek, who steered the ball past Przemyslaw Tyton to give his side the lead.
The co-hosts then looked like they had run out of steam and ideas but there was drama late on. With the final kick of the match, Blaszczykowski sent one flying into the top corner. Goal keeper Petr Cech was clearly beaten but Michal Kadlec was there to head it off the line and keep the Czechs in the tournament, at the expense of Russia.
Giorgos Karagounis, one of Greece's heroes of Euro 2004 triumph, rolled back the years as he helped send his country through to the quarter-finals beating RussiaSource: Reuters
Petr Jiracek celebrates, with provider Milan Baros, the goal that sent the Czech Republic through to the quarterfinalsSource: Reuters