Euro 2012: Group A Wrap-Up
By: Henry Whitfield
Euro 2012 has been full of action and the last day of Group A continued the trend, with Poland and Russia crashing out of the tournament while underdogs Greece and Czech Republic live to play another day.
While Poland and Russia will be heartbroken at their early exits, the future for Greece and Czech Republic isn’t exactly bright, with their next round opponents emerging from the Group of Death.
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Greece 1 – 0 Russia
Greece struggled in both their opening matches, but took advantage of a first half strike by Giorgos Karagounis on the brink of half time to steal a spot in the knockout rounds.
Russia dominated play early on and the lone strike was completely against the run of play, with Karagounis taking advantage of a mistake by Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich.
The unlikely leaders held on after the break, being outshot 29-7 and having just 40% possession, but channelling the defensive mindset that shook the Euro’s of 2004, the Greeks were able to snatch the most unlikely of wins.
The lone black mark for the Greeks will be the suspension of Captain Karagounis for their next match, who was shown a yellow in the second half for what the referee deemed a dive.
Man of the Match: Giorgos Karagounis
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Czech Republic 1 – 0 Poland
Hosts Poland were unable to get the win they so desperately seeked, knocking the co-hosts out of the tournament while sending the Czechs through to the quarterfinals.
After a 4-1 drubbing by Russia in their opening match, the Czech Republic bounced back with a narrow 2 – 1 over Greece and after beating Poland they snuck up to top spot in Group A.
Both teams needed a win and they both fought for it in the first half, however, it was a tale of two halves as the Czechs imprinted their dominance in the second half and the Polish team slowly faded away.
It was Petr Jiracek who sealed the Poles fate, slotting home a shot after being found wide open by former Liverpool frontman Milan Baros.
Petr Cech finally found his groove, stopping 9 shots on target and picking up a much needed clean sheet; the Czech keeper had allowed 5 goals in the first two matches.
Man of the Match: Petr Cech
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Final Group A Standings: Czech Republic – 6 points | Greece – 4 Points |
Russia – 4 Points | Poland – 2 Points
Our Group A Predictions: Russia, Czech Republic,
Greece went on to ruin our predictions, but with a 50% start to the tournament we can’t be too upset. Not many thought the Czech’s could go through but our 2012 Darkhorse was able to seal top spot in the group.
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Henry is a writer for Sportstream.ca and part of the Bill McLean Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , he’ll be bringing daily updates throughout the entire European Championships.