Giorgos Karagounis's goal in first-half added time put Fernando Santos's
side in the quarter-finals at their opponents' expense.
by Simon Hart
from National Stadium Warsaw
Eight years after lifting the Henri Delaunay Cup with victory over Portugal
in Lisbon, Greece finally won another game on the UEFA European Championship
stage, resurrecting that famous 1-0 scoreline to take their place in the
last eight of UEFA EURO 2012 at Russia's expense.
Russia had started the night in Warsaw as Group A leaders but were undone
by a goal on the stroke of half-time by one of Greece's survivors of 2004,
captain Giorgos Karagounis. It was the 35-year-old who took advantage
of a Russian defensive lapse by bursting through to beat Vyacheslav Malafeev
with a low drive. It was some way to mark his record-equalling 120th international
appearance, and a blow from which Russia failed to recover.
The result of it all was that Greece leapt from the foot of the standings
to claim second place and the prize of a quarter-final in Gdansk against
the Group B winners. For Russia, by contrast, a campaign that began with
an impressive 4-1 win over the Czech Republic ended in sheer frustration.
Greece entered the game under orders to avoid a repeat of their slow starts
against Poland and the Czech Republic. There was early encouragement when
Karagounis's early corner was met at the near post by Kostas Katsouranis
but his shot lacked the height to trouble Malafeev.
It was not long before the game settled into a pattern of Russia dominating
possession and Greece sitting back, getting men behind the ball and frustrating
them. Ten minutes in, Andrey Arshavin got his foot to an inswinging Alan
Dzagoev cross but without sufficient power to bother Michalis Sifakis,
deputising for the injured Kostas Chalkias in Greece's goal.
Minutes later, Aleksandr Kerzakhov unleashed a volley from the edge of
the box but, typical of his luck in this campaign, the ball flew just
wide. Russia had control of the middle of the park though it was from
a rare opening down the flank that Yuri Zhirkov sped away from Sokratis
Papastathopoulos but his exciting run concluded with a white, not red
shirt, on the end of his cross. Kyriakos Papadopoulos did well to cut
out another cross, this time by Arshavin, then Kerzhakov missed his kick
when teed up by Dzagoev's header before Zhirkov flashed a shot just over.
After all that, an innocuous-looking situation in first-half added time
brought the opening goal at the other end from Karagounis. When a Greece
throw-in came down the line, Sergei Ignashevich misdirected his header
infield and Karagounis scampered clear, cutting into the box in front
of Zhirkov and beating Malafeev with the power of his shot.
Dick Advocaat responded by introducing Roman Pavlyuchenko for Kerzhakov
but Russian advances continued to crash against the white wall of Greece's
defence. Indeed, the Greeks so nearly extended their advantage shortly
before the hour as Vassilis Torossidis, surging into the box, put a ball
across goal, but Aleksandar Anyukov got there just ahead of Fanis Gekas.
Greece came close again as Giorgos Tzavellas curled a free-kick over the
Russia wall and on to the angle of post and crossbar. By the end Advocaat
had sent on Marat Izmailov for defender Anyukov and one more opportunity
came Russia's way, Dzagoev nodding Arshavin's cross past Sifakis but beyond
the far post. It was the story of their night. Although Karagounis's booking
rules him out of the quarter-final, for Greece, by contrast, this felt
like the reprisal of their greatest tale.