Exciting tie for Poland and Russia, dull win for Czechs | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 12.06.2012
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Exciting tie for Poland and Russia, dull win for Czechs

The score line doesn't reflect it, but Poland's group match against Russia in Warsaw was one of the more entertaining matches of the Euro 2012. The same could not be said for the Czech Republic's 2-1 win over Greece.

There was no lack of anticipation Tuesday night as Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland took on Russia in a key group A match in Warsaw, with commentators ahead of the match highlighting the long-standing rivalry between the two teams - on the pitch as well as off it.

While an organized march of Russian fans ahead of the match led to some clashes with police and Polish supporters, with dozens arrested and others injured, the match that ended in a 1-1 draw was in itself competitive, fair, and a joy to watch.

Poland's soccer fans cheer during the Group A Euro 2012 soccer match against Russia

Fans had long awaited this match

Russia were the better team in the first half and the lead they took into halftime reflected that fact. Their midfield passing was precise and created good opportunities, not least of all for Aleksandr Kerzhakov. The unlucky Russian striker came into the match having taken seven shots off target against the Czech Republic in Russia's 4-1 win in the first group match. He added another three to that tally, despite a number of good looks at the ball.

Alan Dzagoev, on the other hand, continued his hot streak and scored Russia's only goal of the game. Andrei Arshavin took a free-kick in the 37th minute and found Dzagoev in front of the goal, who headed home his third goal of the tournament.

Poland didn't get discouraged, though, and a renewed offensive effort in the second half paid off after 12 minutes. Kuba Blaszczykowski, Poland's captain and a key figure in Borussia Dortmund's fantastic season, blasted away what may have been the goal of the tournament so far from the top of the area - with his weaker left foot.

The final half hour saw both teams setting up good chances but falling short when it came to finishing them off. Despite the draw, the match featured high-intensity play from both teams, which is more than can be said for Group A's other match on Tuesday.

Snoozer in Wroclaw

It wasn't a great day to be a goalkeeper - or indeed a spectator - in Wroclaw on Tuesday as the Czech Republic beat Greece 2-1.

The first keeper to face agony was Greece's Kostas Chalkias, who conceded two goals in the space of seven minutes and then limped off injured early in the first half.

Tomas Hübschmann released Wolfsburg player Petr Jiracek with a superbly timed pass in the second minute, and the hard-working midfielder finished with his left.

Vaclav Pilar of Czech Republic scores the second of the game

Pilar's goal had a wee whiff of good fortune about it

Chalkias had got a hand to the opening goal, but it wasn't enough. Four minutes later, he stretched a glove out and redirected a cross from Czech right-back Theo Gebre Selassie - also in vain. The low ball bobbled across the area and midfielder Vaclav Pilar netted his second of Euro 2012 with his left knee. Pilar was tumbling over as he charged for the goal mouth, but fortune favored his bravery.

Greece scored late in the first half as Giorgos Fotakis headed a far-post cross past Petr Cech, but the goal was disallowed for offside - a decision that was correct, albeit close.

Greece had by far the better of the remainder of the match, though their attacking ideas were limited to repeated lofted balls into the Czech penalty area - either from the flanks or directly from midfield. The relatively predictable attacks were dealt with by the Czech back line, and the match ended 2-1.

Poland and the Czech Republic play each other in a must-win for both sides on Saturday, the final game in Group A. Russia take on Greece and will advance with a win. Greece could be left behind even if they pull off the huge upset against a Russian side in fine tournament form.

Author: Mark Hallam, Matt Zuvela
Editor: Richard Connor