- match commentary
- European Championship Finals
- 8 June 2012, 4:00pm
- National Stadium
Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off as the Euro 2012 co-hosts began their Group A campaign with a 1-1 draw against Greece.
Substitute keeper Przemyslaw Tyton was the hero for Poland in Warsaw, where both sides finished with 10 men. Tyton came off the bench in the second half after Szczesny had been sent off for bringing down Greek substitute Dimitris Salpigidis. The reserve goalkeeper promptly saved the resulting spot-kick from Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis to ensure the points were shared in a wonderfully entertaining match at the National Stadium. Poland will be kicking themselves, however, after throwing it away having gone in at half-time with a one-goal lead and with Greece down to 10 men after defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off harshly for two innocuous yellow cards.
The Poles, who began the game with swaggering intent in front their home fans, had dominated the first half. It was no surprise when Robert Lewandowski gave them the perfect start after 17 minutes, although the goal had as much to do with the poor positioning of Greek goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias as the sharpness of Lewandowski. Chalkias found himself flapping his arms in no man's land to leave the Borussia Dortmund striker, who scored a hat-trick in the German cup final last month, to head home a swinging cross from Jakub Blaszczykowski.
It was no more than the Poles deserved. They were hungrier, quicker to the ball and seemingly desperate to prove that while they are the lowest-ranked team in the tournament they have a realistic chance of reaching the quarter finals at least. In that 45 minutes the Greeks looked a shadow of the organised side who had gained a reputation for being tough to beat, having lost just one of 21 games under manager Fernando Santos. In fact, the Poles would have been kicking themselves that they were not further ahead at half-time after Rafal Murawski, Maciej Rybus and Lewandowski all missed clear-cut chances. Damien Perquis should also have scored when the ball fell to him in the penalty area but the Polish defender, in unfamiliar territory, drilled his shot wildly wide of the post.
It looked as if the Greeks' fortune had deserted them completely, however, when Papastathopoulos saw red just before half-time. The Greek defender had become the first player to be booked in the tournament when he received the yellow card from Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo for what appeared an harmless challenge with a Polish attacker. His second yellow was equally as harsh when he was adjudged to have brought down Murawski. The referee, however, produced red and Greece were down to 10 men and seemingly heading to an opening defeat.
Perhaps fired up by the injustice the Greeks, however, came out in the second half with more determination and resolve and it paid off, even in they did have Szczesny to thank for their equaliser. Szczesny raced out of his goal attempting to collect Vassilis Torosidis' right-wing cross but misjudged it totally, allowing substitute Salpigidis to score from close-range.
The drama, however, was far from finished and the teams were down to 10 players each after 70 minutes when Szczesny endured a moment of madness, sticking out a leg to trip Salpigidis in the penalty area. The resulting penalty was delayed while PSV Eindhoven goalkeeper Tyton came off the bench and Maciej Rybus went off, but Tyton's first action was the most crucial of the match, saving the tame spot-kick of Karagounis. A point was probably a fair result. But what a dramatic way for Euro 2012 to begin.
match commentary: Ross McGinnes
90+4 mins: That's FULL TIME! A point apiece and ten men apiece from an incident-packed opener to Euro 2012! Lewandowski's header gave the hosts the lead after keeper Chalkias got nowhere near a cross, before Papastathopoulos was sent off for a second bookable offence, the first of which was an absolute farce. After the break Salpingidis hauled Greece level before keeper Szczesny saw red for a trip in the box, but skipper Karagounis saw his spot-kick saved by sub keeper Tyton. What an opener!
90+3 mins: Lewandowski chases a ball all the way back to Chalkias who collects and bowls it out. Poland looking the more desperate for a winner, Greece will be happy with the draw, despite the missed penalty.
90+1 mins: The corner's sent in from the near side, Chalkias again flaps at it but it's over everyone and curls out for a goalkick.
90 mins: There'll be three minutes added on at the National Stadium as Katsouranis puts behind for a corner - could have gone anywhere!
89 mins: A huge roar goes up as Lewandowski tries to break through but last man Karagounis halts the run.
87 mins: Karagounis looks for the run of Salpingidis but it's mopped up and Poland press forward once more.
85 mins: Karagounis has a shy from distance but it's another poor effort. Poland break from the goal-kick and Lewandowski down the right ruffles the side netting with a fierce shot - though everyone on the far side of the stadium thinks it's in. "SIDDOWWWWN!"
83 mins: Obraniak finds space to cross down the right, Polanski settles himself and keeps his 18-yard drive low but it's weak as a kitten and Chalkias saves easily on the deck.
80 mins: Cripes. Samaras has another free shot on goal, this time 20 yards out, and he manages to hit it 20 yards over.
77 mins: Obraniak tumbles under Papadopoulos' challenge, he's over-run it in the box and is clearly looking for the spot-kick. Nothing doing.
74 mins: Greece have the ball in the net but it's offside! Tight but correct decision as Salpingidis taps home, Samaras' header in the build-up saw the flag go up.
71 mins: Saved by Tyton! Greece skipper Karagounis keeps it low and goes right, but the sub keeper guesses right and beats it away!
69 mins: SZCZESNY SENT OFF! STRAIGHT RED! He sticks a leg out and brings down Salpingidis as he tries to round him! No arguments from the Poland and Arsenal keeper, and the sub keeper Tyton is sent on in place of Rybus to face the penalty...
67 mins: Greece make a third sub, Gekas making way for 19-year-old attacking midfielder Fortounis.
66 mins: Half chance for Rybus but he can't get his diving header on target from ten yards out.
63 mins: Blimey, that's poor by Samaras. Katsouranis dinks a ball over the top, it sits up nicely for him to leather it on the bounce but he slices his effort horribly off target from eight yards.
61 mins: Murawski looks to thread a ball through to Lewandowski in the box but it's cut out and cleared. Poland are doing all the pressing once more after a purple patch for Greece around their leveller.
58 mins: Greece concede a free-kick 35 yards out, off to the left. Rybus leaves it to Obraniak to keeps his effort low and to the right of the wall, but it also beats Chalkias' far post.
56 mins: Chalkias claims a ball in the box just ahead of Obraniak and punts upfield.
54 mins: Blatant yellow card for Greece skipper Karagounis as he cuts out a pass down the left.
51 mins: SALPINGINDIS FIRES GREECE LEVEL! What a howler by Szczesny! He comes to claim a cross, gets nowehere near it - just like Chalkias for the opener - and the ball breaks for the sub Salpingidis who rifles home from eight yards! The National Stadium's stunned!
48 mins: Lewandowski... over the bar! He's slipped through by Piszczek but rushes his shot under pressure and a relieved Chalkias sees it balloon into the crowd.
46 mins: Just the one change as ten-man Greece get us started once more playing right to left, with Salpingidis coming on for Ninis.
Simon, Norwich: "I want to go with my heart on this and say greece will win, but i think 2-0 poland and 1-1 in the russia game!"
Mike, Mumbai: "Lewandowsi for Liverpool..he wud be gr8 for our type of attacking play"
45+3 mins: That's half time! Time for Greece to take a chill pill (maybe not, urine samples and all that). They're wound up and continue their protests to the Spanish ref on the way off. Lewandowski's header gave the hosts the lead after keeper Chalkias got nowhere near a cross, before Papastathopoulos was sent off for a second bookable offence, the first of which was an absolute farce. Keep your thoughts coming on the game via my name above, and join me for the second half at 1805.
45 mins: Huge handball shout against Perquis in the Polish box, nothing doing says the ref and Holebas gets booked for his protests! Greece need the half-time whistle and fast before they blow their lids. Three minutes added on.
44 mins: PAPASTATHOPOULOS SENT OFF! Greece's afternoon has nosedived even further. After picking up that soft yellow card for a perfectly good header, he's flashed a second one for bringing down Murawski as he tries to break through on goal 35 yards out!
41 mins: Greece keeper Chalkias is once again a long way from snaffling a corner! They eventually get it upfield though and Wasilewski takes a knock as he puts the ball out for a corner. The blue shirts pile forward but again there's nothing for Szczesny to worry about.
38 mins: Perquis fires wide! Greece fail to clear a ball into the box but the centre-back snatches at it under pressure and screws it three yards past the right-hand post!
37 mins: Avraam Papadopoulos' injury has finally got the better of him, and he makes way for Kyriakos Papadopoulos.
36 mins: First yellow card of Euro 2012 goes to Papastathopoulos. Weird one. Looks for all the world like a perfectly good attempt win win a 50-50 header.
Paul, Dorset: "I hope manchester united sign lewandowski...he looks impressive. Get on it Fergie!"
32 mins: Samaras runs into a wall in the shape of Piszczek down the left, it's eventually crossed into the box but Wasilewski heads emphatically clear.
30 mins: Greece waste a free-kick and Poland break amid an almighty roar, but the bouncing ball just stalls Blaszczykowski a touch and Greece can get some sort of shape together at the back.
David, Falkirk: "The Greek defence is like their economy, a shambles!"
28 mins: Papadopoulos heads another Polish corner clear and Greece bring the ball upfield. Poland look solid at the back though - they've kept a clean sheet in their last five games.
27 mins: Little kick-out by Papastathopoulos as he clears ahead of Lewandowski who takes a tumble - the Spanish ref's not interested. Poland soon win their second corner but it's cleared at the second attempt.
25 mins: Katsouranis has a crack from 25 yards but it's no danger for Szczesny who calmly watches it bounce wide of his right-hand post.
22 mins: They're going to give Papadopoulos the chance to run this injury off, he doesn't look too clever though.
Scott, Borehamwood: "gotta be a win for the hosts, i reckon 3-1 to the poles"
19 mins: What a din inside the stadium now. The Greeks' problems are mounting with Avraam Papadopoulos off injured with what looks like a knee problem.
17 mins: LEWANDOWSKI PUTS THE HOSTS AHEAD! A cross is fired in from the right by skipper Blaszczykowski, keeper Chalkias comes for it but gets nowhere near and Lewandowski heads into the ground and it bounces high into the net!
15 mins: Piszczek crosses for Lewandowski who flings himself at the ball in the six-yard box but it's played in way too hard and the chance goes begging!
14 mins: Decent chance blown by the hosts as Blaszczykowski plays a one-two down the right of the box but fires the return ball way over first time.
12 mins: Free-kick to Greece out on the right, swung in by Karagounis. Gekas gets in front of his marker and flashes a header across goal but it's wide of the far post!
Simon, Norwich: "underdogs all the way!!!!"
10 mins: Greece look to make inroads down the right but Poland stand firm and eventually break clear through Polanksi, before Holebas gets a timely foot in.
7 mins: Flag's up against Gekas as he brings down a long ball into the box. Nice, expansive game so far in a predictably raucous atmosphere.
5 mins: Great save by 38-year-old Chalkias, tipping Murawski's effort over the bar! The corner's not cleared and Rybus has a crack from the edge of the box but it's wide of the right-hand upright.
4 mins: Greece win a free-kick out on the left but Lewandowski's back to head clear - and also when the follow-up's put back in.
2 mins: Main man Lewandowski looks to get past Papastathopoulos 22 yards out but the whistle's gone for a shirt tug.
0 mins: Greece get Euro 2012 started under a closed roof, all in blue, playing left to right in the first half. Poland white shirts and red shorts.
1658: The players emerge from the tunnel, proud Polish chests thrust out. Anthems time, always a treat. Greece first - muted, but respected. Then Poland - blimey, that's loud! Handshakes as the pitch is cleared, and we're set to get this thing under way!
1651: It's the opening ceremony. There's a big football which comes apart. There's lots of hats. There's Chopin (Google him, kids). There's a DJ in a sparkly shirt who's so hyperactive he must have been chugging back Haribo since dawn. There's cards on seats held up to form flags and an inflatable logo. It's all a bit naff, but in the nicest possible way. On with the football... please.
1630: Afternoon all, and welcome along to the start of Orange's live coverage of Euro 2012. Exciting isn't it? Co-hosts Poland will get Group A under way against the shock 2004 winners Greece in Warsaw. Greece opened their 2004 triumph with victory over hosts Portugal, and they will once again be looking to spoil the party. For the hosts, the focus will be on Arsenal keeper Szcnesny, marauding right-back Pisczcek, captain Blaszczykowski and star striker Lewandowski who have been dubbed the 'awesome foursome' for the Poles. If these integral players can perform, then Poland will be in with a great shout for a quarter-final spot. Will the co-hosts Poland get their nation rocking with a win or will Greece thrive once again with the underdog tag? Let me know know your thoughts ahead of the big kick-off at 1700 via the 'text the commentator' box on the right.
Ross, Edinburgh: "My bet for the match is it will be close to half time before you'll have finished typing out the teams. Big scrabble scores."