Greece make quarters with Russia win
Published : 16 Jun 2012 22:16:54Rss feed
Giorgos Karagounis and Greece rekindled the spirit of 2004 as they sealed an improbable European Championship quarter-final spot and dumped Russia out of the tournament by beating them 1-0.
The shock champions of eight years ago turned Group A upside down in a remarkable final round of fixtures in Poland. Karagounis' winner - on the night he equalled a national record by earning his 120th cap - came completely against the run of play on the stroke of half-time at Warsaw's National Stadium.
But no-one could argue Greece did not deserve victory at the final whistle, with 2004 hero Karagounis denied a blatant penalty and picking up a booking that ruled him out of the next match. Russia, who beat Czech Republic 4-1, barely tested goalkeeper Michalis Sifakis and were made to pay as the Czechs beat Poland in Wroclaw to steal top spot.
Vassilis Torossidis also had a shot blocked before Russia's technical superiority began to show, Andrey Arshavin poking Alan Dzagoev's 10th-minute cross straight at Sifakis and Aleksandr Kerzhakov inches wide with a superb 20-yard half-volley.
Yuri Zhirkov sent a stunning long-ranger inches over the top as the half looked to end goalless until Karagounis pounced on the former Chelsea winger's loose header before drilling the ball under Vyacheslav Malafeev.
Russia boss Dick Advocaat took immediate action by hauling off Kerzhakov for Roman Pavlyuchenko after the interval before seeing Roman Shirokov and Igor Denisov both fail from long range.
Greece would have doubled their lead shortly before the hour mark had Aleksandr Anyukov not succeeded with a desperate clearance to prevent Theofanis Gekas turning in Torossidis' cross.
Manager Fernando Santos quickly withdrew Karagounis after his booking in favour of Grigoris Makos after sending on Jose Holebas for Gekas.
Russia were losing their discipline and Giorgos Tzavellas was the victim of a crude challenge by Dzagoev, who was booked. Advocaat threw on Pavel Pogrebnyak for Denis Glushakov as news the Czechs had taken the lead in their game - leaving his side needing to score - filtered through.
It was all Russia in the dying seconds but all they could manage was a Pogrebnyak booking for deliberate handball.
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