Early goals keep Czech hopes alive
Two goals in six minutes from Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar revived the Czech Republic’s Euro 2012 quarterfinal hopes as they beat Greece 2-1 at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw on Tuesday.
It was the dream start for the Czechs as they found two goals early on.
In fact, the first 45 was a half completely dominated by Michal Bilek’s men as the controlled the possession stakes and had five shots on goal to Greece’s zero.
The first goal came in the third minute when Tomas Hubschman supplied a beautiful through ball for Petr Jiracek to run onto.
And with just the keeper to beat the Wolfsburg midfielder made no mistake slipping the ball past Kostas Chalkias, 1-0.
In the sixth minute Greece’s defence was found lacking again when Theodor Gebre Selassie broke down the right flank, made his way to the by-line before playing a low ball across the face of goal.
Vaclav Pilar was there for the Czechs, fighting to get to the ball and bundled it home from two-yards out under a tackle from a Greek defender, 2-0.
The Greeks were at sixes and sevens and struggled even to get hold of the ball in the first half.
They suffered another set-back in the 23rd minute when their goalkeeper, Chalkias, had to leave the field injured and was replaced by Michalis Sifakis, making his first appearance at a major international tournament.
But it seemed Sifakis was up to the task in the 29th minute diving full stretch to his right to turn a 25-yard pile-driver from Tomas Rosicky around the post.
Four minutes before the break Greece thought they had pulled a goal back when Giorgos Fotakis found the back of the net with a glancing header, but the goal was ruled out and rightly so because the Greek attacker was in an off-side position.
The second half saw Greece start better and they looked a lot more enterprising in attack.
Still, the goal they did manage to pull back was gifted to them by Petr Cech in the 53rd minute.
A rather harmless ball into the box by Giorgos Samaras was poorly dealt with by Cech as he spilled it straight into the path of Theofanis Gekas who passed the ball into an empty net.
The goal gave Greece some hope, but try as they might they couldn’t create another clear-cut chance on goal as the Czech Republic picked up their first win of Euro 2012.
The win for the Czechs mean they go second in Group A for the meantime with three points, keeping their quarterfinal challenge very much alive.