Co-Host Poland, Russia Tie 1-1 in Euro 2012; Czech Republic Wins
Co-host Poland tied 1-1 against Russia at soccer’s European Championship last night for its second straight draw, while the Czech Republic rebounded from a heavy opening loss with a 2-1 victory against Greece.
Alan Dzagoev put Russia ahead in Warsaw with his tournament-leading third goal and Jakub Blaszczykowski replied for Poland. Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar scored in the opening six minutes for the Czechs in Wroclaw, with Fanis Gekas getting the goal for 2004 champion Greece.
“We’ve proved that we can play a good game and achieve good results,” Blaszczykowski said in comments on UEFA’s website. “We’re still in contention with two points and if we win our final game we’re through. We’ll fight until the end.”
Russia, which started with a 4-1 victory against the Czechs, tops the Group A standings through two rounds of matches with four points. The Czech Republic has three, Poland two and Greece one. The top two qualify for the quarterfinals.
“We’re happy to still have a chance of going through,” Czech coach Michal Bilek told reporters. “We knew it would be the end of our Euro if we’d have lost.”
Fans scuffled ahead of Poland and Russia’s match. Police said that 10 people were injured in sporadic clashes around the city.
Poland, looking for its first win at a European Championship, started positively and almost scored after seven minutes. Ludovic Obraniak swung a free kick into the penalty area and Sebastian Boenisch had a header saved at close range by goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev with his left leg.
Robert Lewandowski, the scorer of Poland’s goal in its opening match, then volleyed just over the bar from 25 yards (7.6 meters) on 11 minutes. The co-hosts had a goal disallowed in the 18th minute, Eugen Polanski straying offside before putting the ball in the net.
Russia broke forward and took the lead on 37 minutes as Andrey Arshavin fired in a free kick and Dzagoev headed it past Przemyslaw Tyton.
Lewandowski failed to convert two opportunities early in the second half before Poland tied it after 57 minutes. Blaszczykowski cut inside on his left foot before curling a left-foot shot into the corner of the net from the edge of the area.
Russia, a semifinalist four years ago, extends its unbeaten run to 16 matches.
The Czech Republic, beaten by Greece in the semifinals at Euro 2004, took 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 replaced injured goalkeeper Chalkias, at 38 the oldest player at the tournament, with Michalis Sifakis on 22 minutes.
Greece, which had a score ruled out for offside five minutes before halftime, 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.
“We did everything to try and score the equalizer but couldn’t,” Greece coach Fernando Santos told reporters. “Now we have to turn our eyes to the next match. We have only a slight chance, but there is still hope.”
In the final group games on June 16, Greece plays Russia in Warsaw and the Czech Republic plays Poland in Wroclaw.