Euro 2012: Greece And Czech Republic Through To The Quarterfinals

The Greeks and Czechs each picked up 1-0 wins, putting them through and eliminating Group A favorites Russia and Poland.

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15 Total Updates since June 15, 2012
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Greece Vs. Russia, Euro 2012: Final Score, 1-0 Win Advances Greeks

Greece has improbably rebounded from two poor performances to open Euro 2012 and defeated Russia to both advance to the quarterfinals of the competition and send Russia home. The Russians needed only a draw to go through and would have also progressed in the event of a draw in Group A's other match, but the Czech Republic's win over Poland knocked them out of the competition.

The first half of the match was mostly uneventful, with Greece surprisingly sitting back a bit even though only a win would send them through. Perhaps they knew Russia would be wasteful, or perhaps they only know one way to play, but in any event Fernando Santos' tactics turned out to be 100 percent spot on.

Russia had all of the possession and created a couple of decent half-chances in the first half, but couldn't find the back of the net. Since a draw would send them through, they didn't look terribly bothered by this, but they didn't complete the half with a clean sheet. In first half stoppage time, Yuri Zhirkov misplayed a header off of a Greece throw-in and let Giorgos Karagounis run in behind him unimpeded. The Greek captain stayed composed and placed a great shot into the back of the net, giving his team a shocking 1-0 lead.

Greece are better at sitting back and absorbing pressure than anything, so it should come as no surprise that they packed numbers behind the ball in the second half. Russia had all of the ball and created an incredible 31 shots, but only two of them hit the target and goalkeeper Michail Sifakis was not actually tested at any point of the game. Greece coasted through the second half with their 1-0 lead almost without incident, even though Russia had all of the ball and a high volume of shots.

The only reason Russia even had chances to get back into the match -- not that they ever came close to taking them -- was because of a refereeing mistake in the second half. Karagounis was shown a yellow card for a dive in the box when a defender clearly made contact with him before he went down. Not only was a penalty not awarded, but Karagounis will not be able to play in the quarterfinal.

He'll be devastated about that, but he didn't look bothered when the referee blew the final whistle on Saturday. He was substituted before the end of the match and was jumping around on the sideline during stoppage time, then was the first player to rush out and join the celebration with his teammates on the pitch.

You can find our previous live coverage of both of Saturday's games in our Euro 2012, Group A Finale StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

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Poland Vs. Czech Republic, Euro 2012: Final Score, Czechs Win 1-0 To Take Group A

The Czech Republic didn't create many chances for themselves today at the Stadion Miejski, but when it really counted Milan Baros and Petr Jiracek combined to score the game's lone goal, giving the Czechs the top spot in Group A and a spot in the quarterfinals.

The first half started great for Poland as they put the Czech Republic defense under a ton of pressure early but failed to take advantage by putting a ball in the net. As the half progressed, the Czechs were able to wrestle away possession and slow the match down to the plodding crawl that benefited their desire for a draw. All that changed in the second half.

With Greece going up 1-0 on Russia in first half stoppage time (the 47th minute to be exact), the Czechs were now faced with the need for a win to advance to the quarterfinal, just like Poland.

That fact was clear from the start of the second half, as the Czechs were far more aggressive on the attack compared to the first 45 minutes. The biggest difference, and the main reason Poland wasn't able to generate the kind of chances we saw in the first 25 minutes or so of the first half, was the fact that the Czechs were able to completely shut down the wing play from Poland.

The Czechs had a brilliant chance to take the lead in the 65th minute as Tomas Sivok directed a point-blank header on goal, but Przemyslaw Tyton was up to the task, making a defensive reflex save to keep Poland's hopes alive.

The Czechs continued to put on the pressure, and their persistence paid off in the 72nd minute. After a rare foray forward for Poland, the Czechs hit on the counter attack. After an extremely poor giveaway by Rafal Murawski, the Czechs rushed forward, getting to the ball to Milan Baros who patiently held things up just long enough to allow Petr Jiracek time to make a run to his left. Baros made a simple pass and Jiracek beat Przemyslaw Tyton with a low shot.

Poland had a last gasp effort denied by a tremendous defensive play from Michal Kadlec. Jakub Blaszczykowski drew out Petr Cech and chipped a shot over the sliding keeper that looked destined for the back of the net. At the last second, Kadlec came flying in and deflected the shot away, preserving the victory for the Czechs.

The co-host Poland will go out of Euro 2012 lamenting their inconsistent play and wondering what might of been had they connected on one or two of the excellent chances they had in the first half.

You can find our previous live coverage of both of Saturday's games in our Euro 2012, Group A Finale StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

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Greece Vs. Russia, Euro 2012: Halftime Score, Giorgos Karagounis Puts Greeks Up 1-0

Greece are ahead of Russia 1-0 at halftime of their Euro 2012 group stage finale in the most unlikely, but typically Greek, circumstances possible. For 45 minutes, Greece did almost nothing going forward, but took advantage of a defensive lapse in stoppage time to score a stunning goal against the run of play at the end of what was previously a spectacularly dull half of football.

The opening minutes of the game were entertaining, however. Konstantinos Katsouranis forced a save out of Vyacheslav Malafeev in the 6th minute, which seemed to signal that Greece had some attacking intent, but it was their first truly dangerous foray forward. Russia picked up the pace for a few minutes afterwards and created a couple of decent half-chances, but things settled down around the 20th minute. For the next 25 minutes, almost nothing happened as both teams looked very content to head into the half tied 0-0.

Then, a massive error at the back for Russia. Yuri Zhirkov attempted to head a Greek throw-in ... well, it's not entirely clear what on earth he was trying to do, but the result was a nearly perfect through ball for Giorgos Karagounis. He was sent clear through on goal and hit a calm and composed finish past Malafeev, giving his team an unlikely lead just before the halftime whistle.

We'll have live coverage of both of Saturday's games simultaneously in our Euro 2012, Group A Finale StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

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Poland Vs. Czech Republic, Euro 2012: Scoreless at Halftime, Poland May Rue Missed Chances

We're halfway through this elimination match between Poland and the Czech Republic on a rainy evening at the Stadion Miejski in Wrocław, Poland. Despite some great chances for the host side, it's scoreless at halftime, a result the Czech's are likely content with as it would see them through to the quarterfinals if it holds.

Lots of attacking energy early in the match as both sides got great early chances. Poland's Dariusz Dudka hit the side netting with an acrobatic bicycle kick attempt. A few minutes later Jaroslav Plasil missed a golden opportunity to put the Czech Republic in front after a fantastic bit of individual effort from Gebre Selassie to create the chance.

As expected, Poland's need for the full three points to avoid elimination meant they were forced to get more bodies forward, leaving space for the Czech's to play in. The plan worked fine for Poland early as they were able to generate chances, but the finishing just wasn't there. Both Robert Lewandowski and Jakub Blaszczykowski had opportunities to give Poland the lead early as they peppered the general area of Petr Cech's goal with shots...even if they weren't technically shots on goal.

As the half wore on, Michal Bílek's side was content to hold possession as much as possible and limit Poland's time on the ball. It didn't work well early, but as the half went on, fatigue started to affect Poland and the Czech's were able to hold on to the ball for longer and longer spells. Late in the half, all the possession did lead to the Czech's finally generating a couple good chances on goal.

The half also lacked much in the way of creative play in the midfield. Poland's early energy slowly gave way to the Czech's sitting on the ball and passing it around. Fortunately, the spectre of either side being one goal away from advancing or going home helped to ratchet up the tension and still allowed for an entertaining 45 minutes of play.

It also looked like we might suffer another weather delay when lightning was spotted in the area at around the 30 minute mark. Fortunately, mother nature settled down and allowed the half to finish.

We'll have live coverage of both of Saturday's games simultaneously in our Group A Finale StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

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Euro 2012, Group A: Matches Underway

Both matches have kicked off in the final day of Group A play in Euro 2012, and if you don't have multiple monitors, you're doing it wrong and your life is significantly less awesome than mine. If you're in the USA, you can catch the Czech Republic against Poland on ESPN and Greece against Russia on ESPN2.

Russia only needs a draw to go through, but they're not looking the least bit negative. In the opening minutes, they look very much like they have in their first two games. It only took 90 seconds for them to test Petr Cech and make him come off his line.

In the other game, the hosts are looking aggressive too. Poland need a win to go through, and they've already had a shot miss narrowly and go into the side netting. Don't expect either game to settle down at any point in time.

We'll have live coverage of both of Saturday's games simultaneously in our Euro 2012, Group A Finale StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

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Poland Vs. Czech Republic, Euro 2012: Lineups

Poland enters their Group A finale unchanged, while the Czech Republic has been forced into a massive switch. Tomas Rosicky is unable to play, and he's been replaced as close to like-for-like as possible with Daniel Kolar. When Rosicky came out for Kolar in the Czech Republic's last game, Kolar was very poor. He'll need a much better performance on Saturday evening.

Poland Lineup (4-3-3): Przemyslaw Tyton; Sebastian Boenisch, Grzegorz Wasilewski, Damien Perquis, Lukasz Piszczek; Dariusz Dudka, Eugen Polanski, Ludovic Obraniak; Rafal Murawski, Robert Lewandowski, Jakub Blaszczykowski

Projected Czech Republic Lineup (4-2-3-1): Petr Cech; David Limbersky, Michal Kadlec, Tomas Sivok, Theodor Gebre Selassie; Jaroslav Plasil, Tomas Hubschman; Vaclav Pilar, Daniel Kolar, Petr Jiracek; Milan Baros.

Kickoff is at 2:45 p.m. ET from the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw. You can catch the game on ESPN in the United States.

We'll have live coverage of both of Saturday's games simultaneously in our Euro 2012, Group A Finale StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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Greece Vs. Russia, Euro 2012: Lineups

Russia enters the final match of Group A play needing just a draw to go to the quarterfinals, and they're taking a slight chance because of it. First choice midfielder Konstantin Zyryanov, who is 34 years old, is being rested in favor of Denis Glushakov. There's a minimal drop-off in quality, as Glushakov had a spectacular season for Lokomotiv Moscow, but he won't have the same chemistry with his teammates as Zyryanov did. Greece's changes were widely expected, and their lineup features no surprises.

Greece Lineup (4-3-3): Michail Sifakis; Giorgos Tzavellas, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Vasilis Torosidis; Kostas Katsouranis, Giorgos Karagounis, Giannis Maniatis; Georgios Samaras, Theofanis Gekas, Dimitris Salpigidis.

Russia Lineup (4-3-3): Vyacheslav Malafeev; Yuri Zhirkov, Sergei Ignashevich, Aleksei Berezutski, Alexander Anyukov; Igor Denisov, Roman Shirokov, Denis Glushakov ; Andrei Arshavin, Alexander Kerzhakov, Alan Dzagoev.

Kickoff is at 2:45 p.m. ET from the National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland. You can catch the game on ESPN2 in the United States.

We'll have live coverage of both of Saturday's games simultaneously in our Euro 2012, Group A Finale StoryStream. For more on Euro 2012 and the entire world of football, follow @SBNationSoccer on twitter.

Check out the SB Nation Channel on YouTube

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