Greece, Poland open Euro campaign with 1-1 draw

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Robert Lewandowski celebrates after scoring the opening goal
Warsaw, Jun 9: Greece denied Poland a perfect start after both teams ended with 10 men and shared points in the opening match of the UEFA Euro 2012 played at the National Stadium in Warsaw.

Greece held the Polish attack throughout while substitute keeper Przemyslaw Tyton denied Greek captain Giorgos Karagounis from the penalty spot in 71st minute. The match ended in a dramatic 1-1 draw.

The home side dominated the proceedings during the first half. Polish striker Robert Lewandowski gave them the perfect start heading down towards the right corner of the goal in the 17th minute. The Greeks were frustrated with sloppy passing and losing possession in the middle. The Polish took charge during the first half with wave after wave of attack.

During the 44th minute, Greece were reduced to 10 men when Sokratis Papastathopoulos was shown a second yellow by Spanish referee Carlos Velasco Carballo for colliding with Rafal Murawski. Greece were under concerted pressure losing another first choice defender Avraam Papadopoulos due to injury, Kyriakos Papadopoulos replaced him in 37th minute.

A draw was never expected with Polish strength and speed in the first half. The Borussia Dortmund trio Lukasz Piszczek, Jakub Blaszczykowski and goal-scorer Lewandowski could have put game to bed in the first 20 minutes. Prior to the goal in the 17th minute, Piszczek found space in the right channel but Lewandowski was inches away from making contact.

Flying down the right channel, Blaszczykowski cross came deeper into the Greek penalty area and keeper Kostas Chalkias was a fraction late as Lewandowski headed into the ground and high into the net.

Greece were battered in the first half but the second half, like any other game proved completely different. Poland opted to slow down their momentum and tire the already depleted Greek side. But Paulo Bento's tactical change at half-time brought positive dividends when striker Dimitris Salpingidis came in for midfielder Sotiris Ninis.

The 30-year-old Salpingidis equalised in the 51st minute when Fanis Gekas and Wojciech Szczesny parried a Vassilis Torossidis cross and he became the only Greek player to score in both UEFA European Championship and FIFA World Cup.

Poland dominated possession but couldn't find a way through the Greek defence. Polish fans continued to support their side but in the 71st minute, Szczesny brought down Salpingidis to earn himself a red card and Greece a chance to go ahead and fancy a win. Substitute keeper Tyton saved Karagounis' penalty and helped his side earn a point.

The result seems fair enough for both sides who went down to 10 men. Poland's strength lies in the Bundesliga winning trio while Greeks showed the mettle which got them through qualifying unbeaten.

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