Euro 2012: The Polish draw with the Greeks to open Euro 2012.
If Euro 2012 manages to live up to its opening match, it will be a tournament to remember. The opener between joint hosts Poland and the surprise 2004 champions Greece was filled with drama, good football, controversy and a couple of goals as well.
The Polish made the early running in the first half, with the Greek keeper Chalkias having to be on his toes to keep out an effort from Murawski. This and a delicious cross which Robert Lewandowski, top scorer for the German Champions Dortmund in the past season, just missed sandwiched a header from Fanis Gekas which went wide. But Poland’s early pressure got its rewards when Lewandowski headed in a cross from Lucasz Piszczek, another Dortmund player who had a stellar season at club level. The goal seemed to spur Poland on and the Greeks remained toothless in attack. Things seemed to get worse for the Greeks when, in the 37th minute, Sokratis Papasthathopoulos was sent off for a second yellow card which he got for obstructing a clear goal- scoring opportunity. But it has to be said that his first yellow card for a tussle with Lewandowski was soft.
It all seemed to be going to script till the second half. But then, the Greeks tore the script apart when they equalized through Dimitris Salpingidis in the 52nd minute. Salpingidis, who came on as a substitute at half-time, turned out to be the game changer. All of a sudden, the Greeks had the momentum and Poland was let off when Celtic striker, Georgios Samaras skied his volley from the edge of the six yard box.
The next turning point in the match came in the 69th minute when a superb ball over the top released Salpingidis and the Polish Keeper Wojciech Szczesny tripped the Greek attacker in the penalty area. Penalty for Greece and a red card for Szczesny, the Arsenal man. Rybus was sacrificed to make way for Tyton, the substitute goal keeper who plied his trade with PSV Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Karagounis, captain of the current Greece team and an integral part of the title winning Greece team of 2004, stepped up to take the penalty. It was a decent enough penalty but Tyton dived well, low to his left to palm it away. A golden chance squandered by Greece. Szczesny’s reaction to Tyton’s save, which involves him running around in the dressing room has since gone viral on the Internet.
Salpingidis was in the thick of the action again when he seemed to put his side ahead in the 75th minute. But the goal was ruled out for offside. It was a very tight decision but seemed just about right in the replay.
The game petered out to a draw in the last 10 minutes as both teams were slightly afraid to go gung ho for the win, fearing a counter attack.
In retrospect, both teams could have won it- an indication that a draw was indeed the right result. And the plot thickens in Group A.