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Smuda: Poles 'paralysed by pressure'
Published : 09 Jun 2012 06:17:05
Poland coach Franciszek Smuda admitted some of his players wilted under the pressure as they drew 1-1 in a dramatic Euro 2012 opener against Greece at the National Stadium in Warsaw.
The co-hosts went ahead through Robert Lewandowski in a first half which saw Greece go down to 10 men when defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off. But Greece rallied scoring through substitute Dimitris Salpigidis before Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was dismissed to even up the numbers.
In the end the Poles had substitute goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton to thank for their point when he saved the resulting penalty taken by Greek captain Giorgos Karagounis. Smuda, however, said: "I told the players to cheer up, it would have been much worse if we had lost. It is not the end, the tournament is still open."
He added: "Greece are a very experienced team and it is difficult to score against them. It was difficult when we lost the goalkeeper. The situation changed because of the red card.
"We played too much across and backwards in the second half. The Greeks had nothing to lose. They tried and they scored. We now have a few days and we will analyse the match and decide on the 11 for next time. We could see some of the players were paralysed by the pressure."
Greek coach Fernando Santos insisted Papastathopoulos was harshly dismissed but refused to criticise Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo.
He said: "When Sokratis (Papastathopoulos) was sent off it wasn't justified but still we succeeded in keeping on the pressure. I totally accept the decision of the referee but it was a difficult situation for us. We were confident and thought we could get in the game again.
"In the end both teams were tired but tried to create chances and we had the best in the second half."
Santos refused to blame Karagounis for missing the penalty, saying: "He has scored in the past, this is football. My players did a great effort in the second half.
"After the first 20 minutes everyone did a great job. If we leave aside the first 20 I am really satisfied with all my players. I am always confident. We had a strategy to win with our attack but we didn't succeed in the first 20 minutes. We had to change our strategy when our player was sent off."