Thursday 23 November 2017

Euro 2012: Greeks stave off early Euro exit

Greece 1 Russia 0

Giorgos Karagounis and Greece rekindled the spirit of 2004 last night as they sealed an improbable European Championship quarter-final spot and dumped Russia out of the tournament.

The champions of eight years ago turned Group A on its head in a remarkable final round of fixtures in Poland.

Karagounis' winner -- on the night he equalled a national record 120th cap -- came completely against the run of play on the stroke of half-time at Warsaw's National Stadium.

Russia, who had thrashed Czech Republic 4-1 in their opening game, barely tested goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis and were made to pay as the Czechs beat Poland in Wroclaw to steal top spot.

It was win or bust for Greece, who got off to a fast start, but Russia had the better chances as the game wore on. Russia boss Dick Advocaat took immediate action following Greece's half-time strike by hauling off Alexander Kerzhakov for Roman Pavlyuchenko. The change galvanised Russia with Roman Shirokov and Igor Denisov both failing from long range.

But Greece were denied a 61st-minute penalty when Karagounis danced his way through the Russia defence and went down after touching legs with Sergei Ignashevich.

There was definite contact but referee Jonas Eriksson thought otherwise and booked a distraught Karagounis, who misses the next game.

It was all Russia in the dying seconds but all they could manage was a Pogrebnyak booking for deliberate handball.

Greece: Sifakis; Torosidis, Papastathopoulos, Papadopoulos, Tzavellas; Katsouranis, Maniatis; Salpingidis (Ninis 83), Karagounis (Makos 67), Samaras; Gekas (Holebas 64)

Russia: Malafeyev; Anyukov (Izmailov 81), Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Shirokov, Denisov, Glushakov (Pogrebnyak 72); Dzagoyev, Kerzhakov (Pavlyuchenko 46), Arshavin

Referee: J Eriksson (Sweden)

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