It has been a miserable six months for the Greeks, but tonight they have a positive reason to dance in the streets after they upset Russia 1-0 at the Euros tonight and have advanced to the Euro 2012 quarter-finals. For the Russians the defeat is shocking. They looked brilliant in their first game when they took apart the the Czech Republic 4-1 and many were tipping them to go far in this tournament.
But Greece, who fought back from a goal and a man down against Poland to draw 1-1 in their first match and then lost 2-1 to the Czech’s, looked the hungrier side from the start and refused to play a walk on part in Russia’s expected drive to the quarter-finals.
The Greece goal came right before half-time when Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich failed to deal with with a throw-in and Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis took advantage to fire a powerful low cross shot past goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev.
Greece knew that a 1-0 victory would take them through and they did what they do so well and that is defend. And Russia seemed to run out of ideas the longer the game went on. The inventful football that Russia showed against the Czechs and in the first-half against Poland was strangely missing today and they rarely tested Sifakis in the Greece goal.
So Greece progress and will now play the winners of Group B, probably Germany, in the quarter-finals next week.
In the other game , the Czech Republic beat Poland 1-0 behind a Petr Jiracek goal 18 minutes from time, a result that meant the Czech’s end up winning the group.
What a rollar coaster it has been for the Czech’s, who looked horrible against Russia nine days ago. Somehow they regrouped from that thrashing to progress.
Poland will be kicking itself for throwing away a great opportunity to ride its home support to progress further in the tournament. In the first match, they outplayed Greece for the first 45 minutes and went into half-time leading 1-0 against a 10-man Greece side.
But the Poles could not put the Greek’s away and paid the price, drawing 1-1. Today against the Czech’s it was a similar story. Poland were terrific in the first half, creating chance after chance. But they could not put the ball in the net, and they seemed to run out of ideas in the second half, letting the Czech Republic get back into the game.
So the Czech’s will now play the runner-up in Group B which could be Portugal, Holland or Denmark.