The UEFA EURO 2012 has officially kicked-off with a 1-1 draw for co-hosts Poland at the National Stadium, Warsaw today. The Polish team were held by former champions Greece in the opening match.
Poland was on fire from the word go and they put early pressure on the Greek team. Rafal Murawski had the first chance for the co-hosts in the 4th minute, when his fierce effort from just inside the box was palmed over the goal with ease by golkeeper Kostas Chalkias.
Ten minutes later, Lukasz Piszczek provided an excellent cross from the right side of the Greek box towards Robert Lewandowski. But the cross was just too hard for the Borussia Dortmund striker to reach and he missed the ball by a whisker.
But Lewandowski took advantage of the Polish pressure in the 17th minute, when the striker met a cross at the back-post and thumped in a downward header to give Poland a 1-0 lead to the delight of the vociferous home crowd.
Greece had no answer to the Polish dominance in the first half and things even got worse for them, when referee Carlos Velasco Carballo sent off Sokratis Papastathopoulos with a second yellow card. Papastathopoulos is only the second player to be sent off in the opening game of a UEFA European Championship, while Patrik Andersson (Sweden) was the first one to do so.
Greece coach Fernando Santos made a tactical change to his line-up, when he brought on Dimitris Salpingidis as a second half replacement for Sotiris Ninis. The move paid off as Salpingidis pounced on a loose ball and fired it home to level the score.
The equalizer helped Greece to gain some confidence, while Poland had to face the pressure in front of the home crowd. Greece played their well known defensive game and waiting for counter attacks.
And it seemed like, if the match could turn in favour of the Greek team, when Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny brought down Salpingidis in the penalty area to concede a red card and a penalty. Poland brought on Przemyslaw Tyton as a replacement for Szczesny and sacrificed midfielder Maciej Rybus in place of the new keeper.
Experienced Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis took the responsibility to take the penalty, just to see it saved by Tyton in the 71st minute.
Poland tried hard to score the winner, but the Greek team managed to avoid any further damage to their goal and were happy to settle for a 1-1 draw.
Poland were disappointed to start off with a draw with expectations high in the country.
UEFA EURO 2012 – GROUP A
at the National Stadium, Warsaw
POLAND 1-1 GREECE
1-0 Robert Lewandowski (17′)
1-1 Dimitris Salpingidis (51′)
1-Szczesny, 2-Boenisch, 13-Wasilewski, 15-Perquis, 20-Piszczek, 7-Polanski, 8-Rybus (70′ 22-Tyton), 10-Obraniak, 11-Murawski, 16-Blaszczykowski [C], 9-Lewandowski
12-Sandomierski, 3-Wojtkowiak, 4-Kaminski, 5-Dudka, 6-Matuszczyk, 14-Wawrzyniak, 17-Sobiech, 18-Mierzejewski, 19-Wolski, 21-Grosicki, 23-Brozek
1-Chalkias, 2-Maniatis, 8-A. Papadopoulos (37′ 5-K. Papadopoulos), 15-Torossidis, 19-Papastathopoulos, 20-Holebas, 10-Karagounis [C], 18-Ninis (46′ 14-Salpingidis), 21-Katsouranis, 7-Samaras, 17-Gekas (68′ 22-Fortounis)
12-Tzorvas, 13-Sifakis, 3-Tzavellas, 4-Malezas, 6-Makos, 16-Fotakis, 23-Fetfatzidis, 9-Liberopoulos, 11-Mitroglou
Carlos Velasco Carballo (Spain)
Roberto Alonso Fernández (Spain), Juan Carlos Yuste Jiménez (Spain)
Gianluca Rocchi (Italy)
Additional Assistant Referees
David Fernández Borbalán (Spain), Carlos Clos Gómez (Spain)
35′ Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Greece)
45’+2′ José Holebas (Greece)
54′ Giorgos Karagounis (Greece)
44′ Sokratis Papastathopoulos (Greece)
69′ Wojciech Szczesny (Poland)
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