Euro 2012: Day five report
- Tue 12 Jun 2012, 9:37PM
- Posted by Mark Booth
Day five of Euro 2012 and attention turned to Group A where Poland rescued a point against Russia and a limp Greece found themselves on the brink of elimination after a 2-1 defeat to Czech Republic.
The second round of Euro 2012 group fixtures are off to an encouraging start thanks to an open, engaging encounter involving Poland and Russia and a surprisingly one-sided Czech victory in Wroclaw.
Poland 1-1 Russia
A second half equaliser from Jakub Blaszczykowski gave the co-hosts a credible point after Russia had taken the lead through the tournament's new top-scorer Alan Dzagoev in an entertaining match in the Polish capital.
There was a sense that Poland were overawed by the occasion in their draw with Greece on Friday but any fears that there would be a repeat of those opening night nerves were ill-founded after this hugely impressive performance.
Russia got off to much the better start, picking up from where they left off against Czech Republic with their fluid passing and movement across midfield producing early shooting opportunities for Kerzhakov and their star man, young Alan Dzagoev.
Poland grew into the game and were unfortunate not to take the lead themselves, Robert Lewandowski had the ball in the back of the net after a sleek break but he had drifted a yard offside.
It was Dzagoev who gave the Russians the lead on 37 minutes with a shouldered finish from Arshavin’s free-kick cross and that’s how it stayed until the half-time break.
Poland were transformed half-time and took the fight to Russia, earning their just reward on 57 minutes when Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski picked up the ball on the edge of the box, wrong-footed the defender and unleashed an unstoppable drive past Viacheslav Malafeev in the Russian goal.
The roars of “Polska, Polska” were deafening in Warsaw’s National Stadium but despite the very best efforts of Francisek Smuda’s men, they couldn’t find a way to pierce the resolute defence of Dick Advocaat’s Russia.
"People will say a draw isn't any good, but against a team as strong as Russia it shows what we can do. We have proved we have the character and the passion to progress."
A win against Czech Republic in their final match will be enough to put them through to the quarters while Russia need just a point against Greece.
Czech Republic 2-1 Greece
Elsewhere in Group A, Greece look doomed after a spirit-sapping 2-1 defeat to Czech Republic in the second match of Group A. First-half goals from Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar were enough to see Czech Republic move ahead of Fernando Santos’ side in the race to qualify for the quarter-finals.
In truth, it was a match of few clear chances with entertainment at a premium, but Czech Republic shot out of the blocks, scoring twice in the opening 5 minutes against a Greek team that hadn’t seemed to grasp the importance of the occasion.
Anyone expecting a reaction from Greece may have been surprised at how long it took them to mount any meaningful challenge to the Czech defence. So poor were Greece that only a moment of calamity was going to give them any chink of light. Petr Cech readily obliged.
Ex-Blue Georgios Samaras punted an aimless cross into the penalty area which the Chelsea goalkeeper proceeded to fumble into the path of a grateful Fanis Gekas, who dispatched his shot into the gaping goal.
With 35 minutes remaining on the clock, Greece stubbornly refused to open up and go for a Czech side that was only too happy to play out time in relative comfort. They must beat Russia in their final game and will probably need Poland to do them a favour against Czech Republic to have any chance of advancing.
The tournament’s so-called “group of death” resumes on Wednesday with Portugal facing Denmark and a mouth-watering showdown between Germany and Nigel de Jong’s Holland on the menu. Join us here for a full report and all of the reaction as Holland bid to avoid elimination.