Russia and Poland out of Euro 2012

Greece rekindled the spirit of 2004 with victory over Russia as Czech Republic sent co-hosts Poland tumbling out.

    Russia and Poland out of Euro 2012
    Greece, shock champions in 2004, sealed an improbable quarter-final spot by kicking Russia out of the tournament [Reuters]

    Greece upset Russia 1-0 with a first-half goal from captain Giorgos Karagounis on Saturday to reach the Euro 2012 quarter-finals and knock their opponents out of the tournament.

    Winning for the first time at Euro 2004, Greece went through as Group A runners-up and will play the winners of Group B in the last eight.

    Elsewhere in Group A, Poland slumped out of the tournament after losing 1-0 to the Czech Republic who reached the quarter-finals as group winners after a game in which the co-hosts will rue a host of missed chances.

    The Czechs, without injured captain Tomas Rosicky, took the lead in the 72nd minute when Petr Jiracek collected a pass from Milan Baros and cut inside a defender before slotting past keeper Przemyslaw Tyton for his second goal of the tournament.

    Greek hero

    Midfielder Karagounis, winning his 120th cap to equal the record for his country, made Russia pay for a flurry of missed chances when he scored against the run of play deep into first-half stoppage time.

    Victory and his goal were bittersweet for Karagounis who will be suspended for the quarter-final after a second-half yellow card shown for diving.

    "The moment is pure magic for all of us," Karagounis said.

    Greece, facing a win-or-bust situation, began brightly with Kostas Katsouranis's flicked volley punched away by Vyacheslav Malafeyev, but the Greeks were penned back for the rest of the opening half as Russia repeatedly let themselves down with wayward shooting that failed to test keeper Michalis Sifakis.

    Playmaker Alan Dzagoyev, with three goals in the first two games, blazed wildly over and Alexander Kerzhakov's fierce shot flew narrowly wide.

    The pattern continued as the game progressed but there was no end product to Russia's neat interplay and movement, orchestrated by Andrei Arshavin in the free role behind striker Alexander Kerzhakov.

    Russia's pace and movement on the break gave Greece problems and Arshavin and Dzagoyev were a persistent menace. Greece's defence creaked and Sifakis's goal was peppered from all angles but Russia's radar was askew.

    For Greece, lone striker Fanis Gekas was an isolated figure, with Giorgos Samaras having to track back to fortify his overworked midfield and defence as Russia probed down each flank. But having withstood the pressure, Greece stunned the Russians in the closing seconds of the half as midfielder Karagounis took advantage of poor marking at a throw-in to race into the box and fire hard past Malafeyev.

    Roman Shirokov and Igor Denisov were again off target after the break and the Greeks were convinced they should have been awarded a penalty when Karagounis tumbled as Sergei Ignashevich stuck out a leg. Instead, Karagounis was booked for diving, much to his dismay as coach Fernando Santos held his hands to his head on the touchline.

    Greece defender Giorgos Tzavellas crashed a free kick against the angle of post and upright in a rare Greek attack in the second half.

    Czech delight

    Tensions ran high among the Poland players as their dreams of Euro 2012 faded away [Reuters]

    The Czech Republic will play the runners-up of Group B.

    "We did what we could do. I don't know how to explain the fact that in one game boys played like they were fired up while in the second game they didn't. It is the end of this great adventure," said Poland coach Franciszek Smuda.

    The co-hosts, roared on by the crowd and needing a win to go through, started the game at a furious pace and will regret their profligacy after missing several chances to go ahead.

    The Czechs were fortunate when a sloppy back pass left striker Robert Lewandowski with a chance but he skewed his effort off target under pressure from Theodor Gebre Selassie.

    Clearly missing their playmaker Rosicky, the Czechs eventually settled down after a nervy opening 15 minutes and began putting the Polish defence under pressure with Vaclav Pilar providing a threat down the wing most of the night.

    The Czechs started the second half strongly knowing they needed a goal to book a quarter-final ticket with Pilar causing all sorts of headaches with his runs at the Polish backline.

    The pressure finally paid off with midfielder Jiracek's neat finish into the bottom corner of the net following a swift counter-attack after a pass from much-criticised forward Baros who played his best game of the tournament so far.

    Poland frantically poured forward in search of an equaliser to keep their hopes alive but the Czechs defended in waves and held on to advance to the last eight.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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