Czech Republic Beats Greece 2-1 for First Win at Euro 2012

The Czech Republic beat Greece 2-1 today in Group A at soccer’s European Championship, rebounding from a heavy defeat in its opening match against Russia.

Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar got goals in the opening six minutes in Wroclaw, Poland, with substitute Fanis Gekas replying for 2004 champion Greece on 53 minutes.

The Czechs had opened with a 4-1 loss to Russia on June 8. Russia plays co-host Poland in Warsaw later today.

Russia, which will guarantee a quarterfinal spot with a win today, has three points with the Czech Republic, while Greece and Poland each have with one point.

Fans scuffled ahead of Poland and Russia’s match. Witnesses said at least three people were injured in sporadic clashes around the city.

The Czech Republic, beaten by Greece in the semifinals at Euro 2004, took only three minutes to score its opening goal in Wroclaw.

Tomas Hubschman split the Greek defense with a pass through the middle and Jiracek collected the ball before sliding a shot past goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias.

Greece, without two defenders who started its opening game against Poland with Sokratis Papastathopoulos suspended and Avraam Papadopoulos injured, was soon two goals behind.

Theodor Gebre Selassie attacked on the right flank and his low cross was turned in by Pilar for his second goal in two games.

Greece had to change its goalkeeper on 22 minutes, with the 38-year-old Chalkias, the oldest player at the tournament, suffering an injury and replaced by Michalis Sifakis.

Sifakis made his first save seven minutes later, from a 25-yard shot by Tomas Rosicky.

The Czechs retained a two-goal lead at halftime, with Greece having an score ruled out for offside five minutes before the interval.

Greece was gifted a goal early in the second period following a mistake by Petr Cech. The goalkeeper, who last month won the Champions League with Chelsea, spilled a cross and Gekas stroked the ball into an empty net.

Whereas the Czechs dominated the first half, Greece was starting to pose the greater attacking threat but struggled to create further chances.