UEFA Euro 2012 Group Stage Day 1: Poland Draws Greece; Russia Rolls Over Czech Republic
Co-host Poland outplayed in 2nd half to drop points in opener, draws Greece 1-1
National Stadium in Warsaw was electric during the tournament’s opening match featuring the home side against Greece. The place exploded upon Robert Lewandowski’s technical header in the 17th minute to open scoring for the tournament. The Borussia Dortmund striker scored 30 goals in all competitions for the Bundesliga champions -- Poland will go as far as their star. The first half was all Polska, as Greece was extremely defensive. A red card to Sokratis Papastathopoulos via two yellows right before the first-half whistle was blown occurred before the match surprisingly changed in the favor of the Greeks.
A poor play by Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny allowed Dimitrios Salpingidis to net an uncontested goal in the 51st minute. Greece pieced together better attacks than Poland through the second half culminating with a one-on-one with Salpingidis and Szczesny results in a red card for the latter and a penalty shot for Greece. Substitute keeper Przemyslaw Tyton saved a point for Poland with his first touch: a penalty save. Poland struggled to piece together any real threat to try to steal the victory. They need to regroup to beat the Czech Republic and try to gain a point from a strong Russian side.
Russia thrash Czech Republic, 4-1
It’s only one day in and just four teams played, but undoubtedly, Russia was the best squad seen today. They dispatched the Czechs with two great first-half goals and a pair in the second half, the last two within three minutes of each other. Alan Dzagoev racked up a pair of goals; Roman Shirokov calmly buried a chip off an amazing Andrei Arshavin through ball; and super-sub Roman Pavlyuchenko displayed elite footwork to open space in the Czech box. Arshavin looked like the Arshavin was in top form as was Pavlyuchenko. Russia is solely in the driver’s seat in Group A; the three-goal victory places them in first place via points and goal differential should they need a tiebreaker.
Goal(s) of the day: Lewandowski scores in front of his nation; Pavlyuchenko dances in the box to set up a beautiful strike
He was great on ball all day and was a catalyst in many Russian attacks. A great showing by the Zenit St. Petersburg man (via loan by Arsenal).
Poor officiating of the day: Carlos Velasco Carballo
First, Carballo was fine for the most part. The problem arose when Carballo reached into his pocket to dole out bookings. He gave Papastathopoulos a questionable yellow early in the first half. Fine. But Carballo gave Papastathopoulos a second yellow on a challenge that would not have been called a foul by most referees. The red card to Szczesny was warranted, but a yellow to Greece was spotty as well. Fortunately, for Greece, they earned a point. But now they have two players in suspension territory and will miss Papastathopoulos for their second game.
Who’s playing tomorrow?
Tomorrow features the most competitive group of Euro 2012 -- Group B -- which boasts Germany, Portugal, Holland and Denmark, all of which are top-ten teams per the FIFA rankings (or top-20 per Elo rankings). The Germans take on Cristiano Ronaldo and his Portuguese while the Dutch go up against the Danes. Watch. These. Games.