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.