Poland hosted Greece for the first match of the UEFA EURO 2012 finals as the tournament mascots Slavek and Slavko showed themselves and what a match it was. Two goals, two red cards, a missed penalty and in the end Greece unlucky not to have won.
Poland 1 Greece 1
Lewandowski, 17 Salpingidis, 51
Poland: Szczęsny, Boenisch, Wasilewski, Perquis, Piszczek, Polanski, Rybus, Obraniak, Murawski, Błaszczykowski, Lewandowski SUBS: Sandomierski, Tytoń, Wojtkowiak, Kamiński, Wawrzyniak, Dudka, Matuszczyk, Mierzejewski, Wolski, Grosicki, Sobiech, Brożek.
Greece: Chalkias, Maniatis, A Papadopoulos, Torossidis, Papastathopoulos, Holebas, Karagounis, Ninis, Katsouranis, Samaras, Gekas SUBS: Tzorvas, Sifakis, Tzavellas, Malezas, K Papadopoulos, Makos, Fotakis, Fortounis, Fetfatzidis, Liberopoulos, Mitroglou, Salpingidis.
The first half of the first game belonged to the home team, urged on by a partisan crowd, although Greece was unlucky to lose defender Papastathopoulos at the end of the half for a second (highly dubious) yellow card.
Morawski shot at goalkeeper Chalkias after 4' leaving it clear that Poland means business in this tournament but Greece came back into it, Gekas heading wide on 12'. Within the minute, Jakub Błaszczykowski did the same at the other end with his feet and on 14', Łukasz Piszczek and Lewandowski combined dangerously...
It was an omen for on 17', Ro0bert Lewandowski sent a bouncing header past Chalkias for the first goal of the EURO. It could have been two after 37', when Perquis shot wide from just beside the penalty spot, trying to place the ball to the right.
After this Greece came back into the game a little more, transporting the ball and interacting with supported attacks involving the whole team. Just when it looked better for Greece, Papastathopoulos was sent off after 44' and Greece was reduced to ten players.
If the first half belonged to Poland, the second belonged very much to Greece. After 47', Lewandowski shot just over after a lightning Polish attack but after that Greece showed itself to be a far better team tactically, individually and in terms of physical fitness. Salpingidis scored the equaliser, taking advantage of confusion in the Polish area, after 51'. After 63, Samaras just could not find the angle with his shot to the left of the goalmouth.
67' - Salpingidis brought down by goalkeeper Szczęsny, who was sent off. The Greek captain Karagounis took the penalty but tried to place it to the right instead of blasting it and substitute goalkeeper Tyton saved it.
74' Greece had the ball in the net again (Salpingidis) but offside had been called and after 80', Samaras wasted an opportunity from the edge of the box.
A great game of football, one point apiece but Greece had the edge.
Group A (FIFA ranking pre-tournament)
W D L GF GA P
Greece (14) 0 1 0 1 1 1
Poland (65) 0 1 0 1 1 1
Czech Republic (26) 0 0 0 0 0 0
Russia (11) 0 0 0 0 0 0
Fixtures (Times GMT)
Russia v. Czech Republic 19.45
Tuesday June 12 Greece v. Czech Republic 17.00
Poland v. Russia 19.45
Saturday June 16 Czech Republic v. Poland 19.45
Greece v. Russia 19.45