Salpigidis saves Greece
An inspired second half substitute by Greece saw Dimitris Salpigidis salvage a point for his country in the opening match of Euro 2012 against Poland.
In fact the little Greek could consider himself a little unlucky not to have led his country to victory after scoring an equaliser and then winning a penalty that was missed by the most experienced man in the squad, Giorgos Karagounis.
The first game of Euro 2012 was certainly not void of action or controversy as Poland and Greece played to an entertaining 1-1 draw at the National Stadium in Warsaw on Friday.
On the night we saw two goals, three yellow cards, two dismissals, plenty of goal mouth action and a missed penalty.
The first 45 was a half dominated by the home side as they controlled the flow of possession and created chances on goal almost at will from the opening whistle.
As early as the fourth minute Poland created their first chance on goal and only the brilliance of the oldest man in the tournament, Kostas Chalkias, denied them the opening goal.
Rafal Murawski let fly from the edge of the box and the Greek keeper was at full stretch to palm his powerful effort over the bar.
Greece seemed to be vulnerable down the flanks and the Poles looked to expose them and that is exactly how they created their goal in the 17th minute.
A miss-placed pass by Greece in the midfield allowed Lukasz Piszczek to break down the right and he supplied a superb cross to find Robert Lewandowski who headed the ball home from 12-yards out for the first goal of Euro 2012, 1-0.
Greece then suffered another set-back in the 36th minute when Avraam Papadopoulos had to leave the field injured and was replaced by Kyriakos Papadopoulos (no relation).
The disruption in defence was evident right away as a minute later a free-kick knocked into the Greek box resulted in a goal-mouth scramble. The ball fell to Damien Perquis 14-yards out, but he fired wide when he should have scored.
A minute before the break produced one of the match’s biggest talking points as the referee sent Sokratis Papastathopoulos from the field after showing him a second yellow card for a rather soft foul on Murawski.
Nonetheless, Greece were reduced to ten men going into the break.
The second half saw Greece make an immediate substitution as Salpigidis replaced Sotiris Ninis and he made an impact right away finding the equaliser goal in the 51st minute.
Salpigidis pounced on a loose ball inside the box and fired it home to level matters from ten-yards out after a mistake between Wojciech Szczęsny and Fanis Gekas in the Polish defence, 1-1.
Szczęsny’s night then got even worse when he was shown a straight red card in the 69th minute.
Salpingidis was through on goal and Szxzesny pulled him down – the referee did not hesitate to show the keeper a red card and point to the penalty spot.
Greece, though, failed to take advantage of the spot-kick as Karagounis’s penalty was brilliantly saved by substitute keeper Przemyslaw Tyton diving low to his left.
The game ended 1-1 and the two countries shared the spoils.