Posted on : 08-06-2012 | By : John Davies | In : Author: John Davies, Euro 2012
Opening day of the Euro’s saw Russia serve notice that it was prepared to cast aside the disappointment of the recent World Cup and resurrect their flourishing effort in 2008 via a 4-1 demolition of the Czech Republic, whilst co-host nation Poland was forced to settle for a somewhat chaotic 1-1 draw, honours even, to Greece.
The evening began in Warsaw with Poland welcoming Greece and amongst the excitement as you expected for Europe’s premier football event but the host nation displayed a mercurial attack. Greece, to the surprise of no-one, took its standard defending first stance but found Franciszek Smuda’s side prepared to attack from the opening whistle. Lead by Borussia Dortmund’s Jakub Błaszczykowski assaults on the right flank and their home supporters in full song, Poland launched wave after wave of attacks. Early efforts from Ludovic Obraniak and veteran Ludovic Obraniak came within a whisper of breaking the deadlock before Robert Lewandowski, at the back post, nodded Jakub Błaszczykowski’s sublime cross from the right into the net. Up by one Poland showed a bold attacking vision but chances from Rafal Murawski, Maciej Rybus and Robert Lewandowski were squandered and as is so often the case, would play a major role in the outcome. Yet still, the most peculiar aspect of the final ten minutes was not of the players but of the role referee Carlos Velasco Carballo as he handed Sokratis Papastathopoulos two intensely controversial yellow-cards before the break, thus forcing the Greeks to play with the personnel disadvantage.
At the re-start Greek manager Fernando Santos summoned Dimitrios Salpingidis for Sotiris Ninis and the thirty year-old PAOK veteran rewarded him richly at fifty-first minute as he pounced on a poorly played ball Wojciech Szczesny and rifled into the net. The complexion of the contest had decidedly turned in favour of the Greeks but once again gifted opportunities were allowed to perish. Coming at the sixty-eighth minute and after Giorgios Samaras missed a chance to give his side the lead with the open goal beckoning, Wojciech Szczesny was adjudged a penalty and a straight red-card for bringing Dimitrios Salpingidis down the area. However Greece’s hopes ended as Przemyslaw Tyton entered the proceedings and immediately stepped in the heroes light as he denied Giorgos Karagounis from the spot and without further incident the match concluded as a 1-1 draw, honours even.
Seeking retribution for the debacle that saw relegated as spectators for the most recent World Cup, Russia served notice of their intent to climb to the pinnacle of the football world with a 4-1 defeat of the Czech Republic that was in-fact flattering to the vanquished.
The early stages in Wroclaw saw the Czech side pose a notable front but like a predator toying with its next meal, Russia turned the contest on its end at the quarter hour with flourishing counter attack. Via Alan Dzagoev’s provision, Konstantin Zyryanov delivered a cross from the right to the back post for Aleksandr Kerzhakov only to striker’s effort bound off the woodwork and straight onto the path of the CSKA playmaker who made no mistake from eleven metres. The twenty-one year old nearly added his second moments later courtesy of Andrei Arshavin but steered his booming drive off-course. Ten minutes later the margin was doubled as Andrei Arshavin eased a angled through ball to the right for Roman Shirkov to lift over the sprawled goalkeeper. After oddly being denied a penalty by referee Howard Webb when Jaroslav Plašil brought down Andrei Arshavin in the area, Russia found finishing off and had to settle for the two goal advantage after the break.
Up by two, Russia settled after the break and at the fifty-second minute were stirred into action as Václav Pilař latched onto Jaroslav Plašil’s dissected provision, navigated to the right past ‘keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev before sending the ball into the net. The goal opened up play but with the Czech’s hopeful of a draw Russia served those thoughts with eleven minutes remaining as Alan Dzagoev showed his vast pedigree accepted the ball from Roman Pavlyuchenko on the counter and promptly ripped it past ‘keeper extraordinaire Petr Čech for the 3-1 advantage. Three minutes later Roman Pavlyuchenko officially started the party, as well as hope for exorcising the demons of World Cup 2010, as he serpentined his way through the area before launching a superb effort into the net to complete Russia’s triumphant 4-1 triumphant start to the Euro’s.
Prepared by John Davies
©Europa League News, 2012
All rights reserved