Thousands of Greeks have poured onto the streets of Athens to celebrate after the country's football team cheered the nation on the eve of crucial elections with a surprise win over Russia at the Euro 2012 championships.
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The 1-0 victory, which secured Greece's place in the quarterfinals and evoked memories of the national side's stunning triumph in the 2004 edition of the tournament, provided a welcome lift in the debt-stricken nation where voters on Sunday are presented with a stark choice between punishing austerity or the risk of ejection from the eurozone.
"Greeks have heart and they show it when things get tough, we pull together in times of crisis" said 29-year-old Vasilis Papaspyliotopoulos, standing amid a crowd in the Greek capital's central Omonia Square with the nation's blue-and-white flag draped across his shoulders.
"The result is a message to politicians, to everyone that Greece won't die and never bows to anyone,'' said Chris Mbogosian, amid the celebrations.
The crowds in Athens waved Greek flags, lit green and red flares and set off firecrackers amid the soundtrack of hundreds of honking cars and renditions of the national anthem in a spontaneous outpouring of patriotic fervour.
Few football watchers had given Greece any hope of winning Saturday night's clash in Warsaw against a Russian side which had looked impressive in its earlier two matches, while the Greeks had struggled to draws with Poland and the Czech Republic.
"The moment is pure magic for all of us," said Giorgos Karagounis, the squad's captain and goalscorer. "This night is very important, it is something important for Greece for all Greeks. We said we would give it all, despite all the difficulties."
Greek players and coaching staff celebrated wildly on the pitch in front of their small section of fans who had been heavily outnumbered by the large Russian contingent that descended on the Polish capital.
"It turned out to be good for us, it was unexpected, when we came this morning from Athens, really we did not expect, we did have a small hope, a small chance. The team played as good as they could, they were defensive, waiting for one chance, one goal and it worked out", a Greek reveller in Warsaw's National Stadium told the Reuters news agency
In Athens, crowds broke into chants of "Bring on the Germans", relishing the prospect of a possible quarterfinal meeting with the country blamed by many for the punishing austerity terms imposed in return for the bailout package that is keeping Greece afloat.
"It's a result that shows our country is strong,'' said Stavris Helmis, 26.
"Sport may not be the most serious thing, but it lifts our spirits."