- American Sports
- Other Sports
- Euro 2012
Greece 1 Russia 0
With tomorrow being one of the most important days in Greece’s recent history, talks of Euro Zone debts, the Euro and coalitions can be forgotten for at least twelve hours as Greece produced a heroic display to condemn Russia to a shock early exit from the tournament.
With Russia needing to avoid defeat to guarantee progression, they were punished for their lack of urgency in attack by Giorgos Karagounis strike on the stroke of half time.
With bad starts in their opening two fixtures, Greece made the brighter start to this fixture and were on top in the opening ten minutes. Only a smart save from Malafeev denied them the lead after Katsouranis flicked on Karagounis’ corner at the near post in the early exchanges.
But the miss of this chance signalled the end of Greece’s attacking play as Russia dominated the rest of the half. Russia made the most of Greece’s lack of industry in midfield and kept possession well. A somewhat worrying sign for the Greek bench was the ease to which their opponents worked the ball to the edge of the penalty area and the number of times they managed to do it in the first half.
Despite this, it was a half of very few chances, although a some last gasp deflections and blocks stopped a number of potential threatening Russian situations as Greece tried to contain their opponents. Andre Arshavin forced a good reaction save from Sifakis, Kerzhakov saw his half volley curl narrowly wide of the target and Zhirkov’s shot from the edge of the area crept just over the cross bar as Russia failed to convert their dominance into goals.
The last time Greece won a game in a European Championships was in the final of Euro 2004 in Portugal. In that game, despite facing waves of pressure throughout the match, they soaked it all up and came away victorious. Although there was no trophy at stake this time, memories of this game came flooding back as Greece made Russia pay for not making their dominance pay on the stroke of half time. What looked to be a throw-in in a harmless area was flicked into the path of Karagounis who drilled the ball home under the body of Malafeev to give Greece a shock and completely undeserved lead at the break.
Russia needed to get a goal back in the second half but much like the first period despite enjoying the majority of possession, they weren’t able to do anything with it. In fact it was Greece that looked the more likely of the two sides to score the next goal. Only a desperate block from Anyukov prevented Fanis Gekas from converting a Vassilis Torossidis cross. Georgios Tzavelas hit the bar with a free kick and the Greek bench were incensed when Karagounis was brought down in the penalty area but the referee adjudged it to be a dive to the clear dismay of the Greek Captain
Russia couldn’t find a way past a hard working and resolute Greek defence. Despite Dick Advocat utilising his attacking options from the bench, the lack of killer instinct and urgency in attack meant they could not unlock the Greek defence. They were limited to shots off target and from distance. Moments after Czech Republic’s opening goal in the other group game in Group A against Poland was shown on the big screen, Denisov’s shot from distance tested Sifakis for the first time in the half but the shot was low and straight at him.
With the game nearing its conclusion, Greece threw more and more men behind the ball but were fortunate to keep hold of their lead when Dzagoev header flew past the post by inches. Even with an extra four minutes added at the end, Russia couldn’t muster another clear goalscoring chance as Greece upset all the odds to secure a quarter final place to the delight of the players and supporters who’ll celebrate this famous night into the early hours of the morning.
Greece 1 – 0 Russia (HT 1-0)
Greece: Sifakis, Maniatis, Tzavellas, K. Papadopoulos, Torossidis, Papastathopoulos, Karagounis (Makos 66), Katsouranis, Samaras, Salpingidis (Ninis 82), Gekas (Holebas 63). Manager: Fernando Santos.
Russia: Malafeev, Anyukov (Ismailov 80), Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Berezutski, Shirokov, Denisov, Dzagoev, Glushakov (Pogrebniak 72), Arshavin, Kerzhakov (Pavlyuchenko 46). Manager: Dick Advocaat.
Referee: Jonas Eriksson (Sweden).
Goals: 45 + 2 Karagounis.
Bookings: Karagounis (61) Anyukov (64) Zhirkov (69) Dzagoev (70) Pogrebniak (90+2) Holebas (90+3).