GREECE - RUSSIA - 0:1 (0:1)
14 June 2008.
UEFA Euro 2008. Group D.
Wals Siezenheim Stadium, Salzburg.
Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Italy).
Greece: Antonios Nikopolidis, Giourkas Seitaridis (Giorgos Karagounis,
40), Traianos Dellas, Sotirios Kyrgiakos, Vasilis Torosidis, Kostas Katsouranis,
Angelos Basinas (c), Christos Patsatzoglou, Angelos Charisteas, Ioannis
Amanatidis (Stelios Giannakopoulos, 80), Nikos Liberopoulos (Theofanis
Manager: Otto Rehhagel.
Russia: Igor Akinfeev, Aleksandr Anyukov, Denis Kolodin, Sergei Ignashevich,
Yuri Zhirkov (Vasili Berezutski, 87), Sergei Semak (c), Dmitri Torbinski,
Konstantin Zyryanov, Igor Semshov, Diniyar Bilyaletdinov (Ivan Saenko,
70'), Roman Pavlyuchenko.
Manager: Guus Hiddink.
Scorer: Zyryanov (33).
Yellow cards: Karagounis (42), Liberopoulos (58), Saenko (77), Torbinski
Russia end holders' defence early
by John Mathews from Stadion Salzburg Wals-Siezenheim
Russia's young stars had been urged to "learn fast" by their
coach Guus Hiddink and they came of age in Salzburg as Konstantin Zyryanov's
solitary goal earned them a 1-0 win against Greece, thus ending Otto Rehhagel's
team's reign as kings of Europe. After both sides had lost their opening
matches in UEFA EURO 2008™ Group D, the stakes were high at the Stadion
Wals-Siezenheim, but Russia emerged victorious to knock defending champions
Greece out of the tournament.
The only goal will haunt Greece goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis long into
the night as he inexplicably chased a cross by Diniyar Bilyaletdinov that
had already cleared his posts by five or six metres all the way to the
touchline, and he was made to pay the full price for his 33rd-minute excursion.
The Olympiacos CFP keeper was beaten to the ball by Russia captain Sergei
Semak, who hooked it back over his head and Zyryanov was on hand to guide
it ever so simply into an unguarded net.
Roman Pavlyuchenko, who recovered from a groin injury to start the match,
was a constant threat to Greece and he created the first real opening
in the 14th minute with a curling shot from the corner of the penalty
area and Nikopolidis had to be at full stretch to tip it over the bar.
From the resulting corner, Yuri Zhirkov flashed a shot a metre wide and
Russia appeared the stronger of the two teams in the opening exchanges.
The closest Greece came to Russia's goal in the first half came in the
20th minute when Angelos Charisteas just failed to connect with a free-kick
cross from his captain, Angelos Basinas. Midfielder Igor Semshov cleared
the danger in highly irregular fashion, the ball bouncing up off his boot
and into his face before passing harmlessly wide.
Nikopolidis was kept on his toes early in the second half by Pavlyuchenko,
who twice fired in his direction and forced him into saves, and the FC
Spartak Moskva striker then cut inside two defenders before dragging his
shot into the side-netting. Greece, realising their hold on the European
crown was slipping, rallied and Basinas had an excellent opportunity to
level in the 55th minute, though his left-footed shot from close to the
penalty spot was much too high.
Greece bow out
Russian counterattacks were always a danger from that point and a clever
backheel by Pavlyuchenko almost set up Bilyaletdinov for a second, but
he could not find the target from a promising position. Although Greece
had more to lose in the closing stages, Russia appeared far more likely
to add to their tally than concede an equaliser, until Fanis Gekas finally
found the Russian net late on, only to be ruled offside. Russia face Sweden
in their final Group D game on Wednesday needing victory to reach the
quarter-finals, while Greece take on section winners Spain with little
to play for but pride.
Konstantin Zyryanov scores for Russia (©Getty
14 June 2008