Euro 2012: Greece rock Euro zone and send Russia home; Poland also out

Showing You The Door

The first decisive day of the European Championship produced the first major surprise, with Russia going home early after they failed to break down a dogged Greece defence and lost 1-0 here.

Dick Advocaat, in his final game as Russia coach, was his usual charmless self in arguing that all the Greeks ever do is defend but his admission that his players were not sharp enough in front of goal was much nearer the mark.

Russia turned out not to be sharp anywhere on the pitch, not least in the closing seconds of the first half when making Giorgos Karagounis a present of a goal. Even when losing Russia still had a chance of progressing as long as the other Group A game remained goalless, but a second-half goal by Petr Jiracek in Wroclaw put paid to that possibility in addition to consigning co-hosts Poland to elimination. Greece will most likely face Germany in the quarter-final, which may be hard for Angela Merkel to credit.

"The Greek players gave everything and we will give everything in the next match too," Fernando Santos, their Portuguese coach, said. "We may not be the best in the world but we know what we can do." Goalscorer Karagounis was even more effusive. "We managed to give joy to all Greeks all over the world," he said. "I'm really proud that my compatriots can go out and celebrate, take a break from reality. No matter how tired we were, and we were tired, there was no chance of us conceding a goal. On the way home from the last game, when we heard the Poles and Russians had drawn, we knew we had an opportunity. Today we played for just one result, and we were decisive."

Poland's coach, Franciszek Smuda, resigned after the defeat in Wroclaw.

Powered by article was written by Paul Wilson in Warsaw, for The Observer on Sunday 17th June 2012 00.48 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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