Sunday, 17 June 2012

Group A Review

Saturday saw the final round of matches from Group A.

Both games were played simultaneously but I will start with Poland vs the Czech Republic which was billed as the main match. The Czech Republic were on four points and it seemed that a draw should be enough as opponents Poland were only on two points. Being a co-host of the tournament, they would have been backed to get the win to send them through.

The Polish really gave it a go first half and came close a few times to nicking the lead, the Czech Republic seemed happy to sit back and hold on for the point to take them through. As half time arrived, both sides were still in with a great shout of winning the game and reaching the quarter finals.

Poland seemed to run out of energy second half and let the occasion get to them, the Czech Republic began to take control of the match and got the breakthrough as Petr Jiracek, scored in the 72nd minute to put his side through. The Czechs will have surprised a few people in going through after their opening day defeat whilst Poland will be devastated after drawing a seeming easy group.

This result meant that Russia needed just a point to qualify whilst Greece needed to win the game in order to progress. The opening half saw Russian dominance without creating any clear cut chances, it felt like 2004 again as Greece capitalized on a Russian mistake with Giorgos Karagounis finishing well to take a lead into the break.

The second half saw more of Russia trying unsuccessfully to break through the Greek defence, part way through the half Greece were denied a clear cut penalty and Karagounis was booked which meant he would miss a possible quarter final. The Greeks managed to hold on and shock everyone by qualifying whilst sending Russia home.

Russia will wonder how they failed to qualify from such an easy group whilst Greece will be wondering how on earth they managed TO qualify from the group.  


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