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Saturday, June 09, 2012

Poles not so polished against the Greeks

What a dramatic way to begin the Euro 2012! The opening match between Poland and Greece lived up to all the hype surrounding Euro 2012. Though the game ended in a 1-1 draw, it was, nevertheless, an aggressive and lively game that saw both the teams reduced to 10 men each after the Greek defender Sokratis and Polish goalkeeper Szczesny were shown red cards.
The Poles, playing on their home ground, amidst the cries of “Polska, Polska” coming from their supporters and fans, had an impressive start to the game. It was expected of the Poles to play well since the team was loaded with some of the best players of the game in the form of Lukasz Piszczek, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Robert Lewandowski. The Poles made several attempts in the opening minutes of the game, capitalizing on the weak Greek defence, but they failed to materialize their efforts into goal. It was in the 17th minute when Lewandowski delivered a splendid downward header to Jakub Blaszczykowski's cross, giving the Poles a well-deserved lead in the game.

Lewandowski celebrates after scoring the goal

Greece tried to regroup, focusing on the game and increased the attack on the Poles but failed to create any goal scoring opportunities for themselves till the end of the first half. To add to their misery, first Avraam Papadopoulos had to leave the field with an injury and then Sokratis Papastathopoulos’s misadventure resulted in him being shown the door with a red card (The decision was a bit harsh in my opinion). The first half ended with the Poles leading 1-0.
Sotiris Ninis was replaced by Salpingidis after the game resumed in the second half. And what a gem of a decision it was! Salpingidis made full use of the opportunity when there was a mix up between the Polish goalkeeper Szczesny and defender Wasilewski, striking the ball to the back of the net. 17 minutes later, Szczesny almost handed the match to the Greeks when he tripped Salpingidis that resulted in him getting a red card and the Greeks a penalty. Amidst the jeering and resentment of the Polish fans at the referee’s decision, the new goalie PSV Eindhoven’s Tyton entered the grand stage.  The fate of the Poles now literally lay on his hands. The penalty spot kick was to be taken by the experienced Greek captain, Giorgos Karagounis. The referee blew the whistle. Karagounis took the spot-kick. But his attempts were foiled by the hero of the day, Tyton, who diving to his left, parried the ball to safety. What a moment it was. The Greeks had the finest opportunity of creating an upset in the opening game of the match itself. But they were turned down by Tyton’s brilliance.
Salpingidis scores
Brilliant save by Tyton

This highly entertaining match finally ended all-square. However, the Poles would be kicking themselves considering the formidable team they were and ruining their chances especially when the Greeks were reduced to 10 men in the first half.

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