Euro 2012 got off to an incident-packed start on Friday with Group A favorites Russia thrashing the Czech Republic 4-1 while Greece spoiled the party for co-hosts Poland in a drawn opening match as both teams finished with 10 men.
Russia captain Andrei Arshavin turned in the kind of inspired performance that Arsenal fans forgot that he was capable of, as Russia put on a classic display of counter-attacking football in Wroclaw as they blew the Czechs away.
The Russians will next face Poland who got the perfect start against Euro 2004 champions Greece when striker Robert Lewandowski, who has been linked with a move to Manchester United, scored early but the Greeks fought back and even missed a penalty in a lively encounter.
Spurred on by a vociferous home crowd of 56,000, Poland got off to the perfect start when Lewandowski nodded them deservedly in front in the 17th minute. When Greece defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off just before halftime for a second yellow card, a horrendous decision by the referee, it looked like Poland would go on to easily win the game.
But the Greek has obviously not read the script as Salpingidis tied it up six minutes after halftime. Then Poland’s first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for bringing down Dimitris Salpingidis in the penalty area but substitute goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton came off the bench to save the penalty from Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis.
The Greek’s will be happen with the point while POland will view this result very much as two points dropped.
In the second game Russia swept to a 4-1 win over the Czech Republic with a slick counter-attacking display and deadly finishing on Friday to take control of what was tipped to be a tight Euro 2012 Group A.
Alan Dzagoyev scored either side of a dinked effort from Roman Shirokov before substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko struck a brilliant fourth to sink their dazed opponents.
The Czechs tried their best to fight back in the second half, with Vaclav Pilar making it 2-1 just after the break, but Russia could have won by even more goals as they stamped their credentials on the tournament as possible title contenders.