Greek Grit Secures Win, Knocks Out Russia
A stubborn performance from Greece and a Russian defensive fumble gave Greece an unlikely win and saw Russia eliminated in the group stage Saturday.
Combined with the Czech Republic’s 1-0 win over Poland, the result was enough to send the Czechs and Greeks through to the quarterfinals from Group A.
That came at the expense of a Russia team that had dazzled in its opening 4-1 thrashing of the Czechs but ultimately lacked the mettle to break down a Greece team reminiscent of the defense-first side that won Euro 2004.
With 25 shots to Greece’s five, Russia had chances, but a combination of Greek saves and blocks and simple Russian inaccuracy proved enough to deny them.
Greece scored the only goal of the game on 45 minutes when Sergei Ignashevich misjudged the flight of the ball at a Greek throw-in and Sotiris Karagounis was in behind the Russian defense.
Karagounis, one of two veterans in the team from Greece’s 2004 triumph, finished with a placed shot under Vyacheslav Malafeev to give the Greeks a surprise 1-0 lead.
Greece were unlucky not to get a chance to extend their lead when Karagounis was brought down by Ignashevich in the box, but the referee booked the Greek goalscorer for diving.
Russia charged forward but Alan Dzagoev, Roman Shirokov and Pavel Pogrebnyak all missed chances to equalize.
Russia: Vyacheslav Malafeev, Alexander Anyukov (Marat Izmailov 81), Sergei Ignashevich, Alexei Berezutsky, Yuri Zhirkov, Roman Shirokov, Igor Denisov, Denis Glushakov (Pavel Pogrebynak 72), Alan Dzagoev, Andrei Arshavin, Alexander Kerzhakov (Roman Pavlyuchenko 45).
Greece: Michalis Sifakis, Ioannis Maniatis, Vasilis Torossidis, Georgios Tzavellas, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, , Kostas Katsouranis, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Giorgios Karagounis (Grigoris Makos 67), Dimitris Salpingidis (Sotiris Ninis 83), Georgios Samaras, Theofanis Gekas (Jose Holebas 64).
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