Group A
 1-2 Czech Republic



Petr Jiracek zipped the ball past Kostas Chalikas in the Greece goal with constimmate ease after just three minutes to give the Czechs a fast start


By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor from Municipal Stadium, Wroclaw

Czech Republic threw Group A wide open after two early goals helped them to a 2-1 win over Greece, who are now on the brink of going out of Euro 2012. 

Woeful defending allowed Wolfsburg's Petr Jiracek- who was switched to the right-wing with great effect- to smash past Chalkias's hand, before Plasil bundled in his 2nd goal of the tournament after again, some very poor defending. Only after Petr Cech's error did Greece fully believe they could get back into the match.  

The Czechs, after losing their opener 4-1 to Russia, needed to win to stand any chance of reaching the knock out phase. Greece after their comeback to draw 1-1 with the co-hosts Poland, knew a defeat wouldn't be disatrous, but needed to be avoided. 

Due to this Greece made 4 changes: one was enforced as A. Papadopoulos was injured so his brother Papadopoulos came in at the heart of the defence. Also coming in were Fortounis and Fotakis who replaced Ninis and the suspended Papastathopolous, whilst up front Gekas was dropped in favour of Salpingidis. 

Meanwhile, in the Czech team there was also a couple of changes: Out went Hubnik and Rezek and in came Limberskey - who was at left back, with Sivok moving across to centre back and Hubschman who came in to anchor the midfield.  



Czech Republic were the quickest side to go 2-0 up after they led after 6 minutes, beating the match between Holland and Germany (Germany 14 minutes).


And the Czechs made a lightning start - inside 3 minutes. Hubschman's ball completely bisected the defence, with Helebos the left back out of position as the ball was played in behind him, and Jiracek ran clear to smash a shot past Chalkias's outstretched hand and give the Czechs the perfect start.  

On six minutes it was 2-0 to the Czech Republic in double quick time as the Greeks imploded. This time it was captain Tomas Rosicky, of Arsenal, that played in right back Gebre Salassie. His ball across wasn't dealt with by the keeper and Pilar bundled in for his 1st goal of the tournament. Greece's defending has been shambolic at the best of times but this was beyond that. Such a shame for a nation that kept 7 clean sheets in 11 matches prior to this tournament. 

Greece managed to test Cech on 7 minutes through Salfingidis's low cross to the near post but he held easily. Greece were still reeling from those 2 early goals, and every time the Czechs came forward at pace, a goal looked like would be the outcome.

On 20 minutes, Plasil cut inside his man, allowed to do so far too easily, but dragged his shot narrowly wide of the post, although the keeper probably had it covered.

Just a few minutes later, the Greeks were dealt a blow when keeper Chalkias had to limp off, therefore had to be replaced by Sifakis - who only played 4 games last season for PAOK Salonika.

It didn't take long for the new keeper for the new keeper to be tested as again it was too easy for Rosicky to run forward and a 25 yard stinging drive was flicked round the post by Sifakis. 



Just 15 shots were attempted in this match - the lowest ever for a Finals match.

From this point onwards it was much a non-event as Czech Republic were happy to let Greece have the ball as they knew that a disciplined defensive performance would keep them out. This was tested when 5 minutes before half time the Greeks had a goal ruled out - wrongly - for offside against Fotakis from Salpingidis's cross from the right. 

The Czech's should have been 3 up by the time the half time whistle blew: Jiracek got past Helebos but shot wide. 

The second half began with a lot of fouls being committed, with Czech Republic not wanting to give anything away. But they did give something away; a goal and another howler by Petr Cech. A hopeful cross by Samaras into the box was about to be gathered by the Chelsea goalkeeper, with no immediate danger. Somehow, the ball slipped through his fingers and left substitute Gekas with a simple tap-in. 

The Czechs were now stuck as captain Thomas Rosicky was subbed at the break due to a suspected hamstring injury. 

Despite the new optimism Greece created very little, with Kolar - another sub - firing way off target folowed by a shot by right back Maniatis which went well wide. 

Czech Republic saw the game out and picked up three crucial points and dropping Greece to the bottom the table. For the Greeks to reach the Quarter-Finals they must beat Russia here in Wroclaw on Saturday. 



Tuesday 12th June                 UEFA Euro 2012: Poland & Ukraine                   Group A                 Municipal Stadium, Wroclaw

Greece 1-2 Czech Republic                                     KO 5pm                 Live on ITV1/HD               (HT 0-2)    

Gekas 53         Jiracek 3
                          Pilar 6




1. Chalkias-  4/10  Was very shaky and didn't look at all comfortable. Came off injured after 20 minutes.  

2. Maniatis-  5.5/10  All over the place in the first 30 minutes and never really recovered. Never really got forward. 

4. Torosidis-  5.5/10  Caught out of position for the first goal and never covered his fellow central defender. 

12. Papadopoulos-  5/10  Looked shaky and was at fault for certainly one of the goals.  

20. Holebas-  4.5/10  Sucked into a defensive position a lot at the time and has certainly took a downward spiral since the Poland match in terms of his performance level. 

22. Fortounis-  6.5/10  Excellent passing and try to keep things moving. Struggled to make an impact as the Czechs dominated the first half, but was better in the second.  

21. Katsouranis-  6.5/10  Held position well. Never afraid to get stuck in and in the second half helped to get some decent crosses into the box. 

10. Karagounis (C)-  7/10  A rock in the heart of the midfield. Utilised the ball well and always looked to be positive with the ball; always looking for a forward pass.  

16. Fotakis-  6/10  He had a goal disallowed at the end of the first half and was always in and around the box. Not involved enough and subbed at the break.

7. Samaras- 8/10  Was isolated in the first half as Greece struggled to get out of their own half. Held the ball up well and a was a focal point of attacks in the second period.

14. Salpingidis- 7.5/10  Looked lively as he frequently took on his man. Linked up well with Celtic forward Samaras and had a couple of chances too.  


Substitutes bench:-  
12. Tsorvas (GK), 13. Sifakis (GK), 3. Tzavelas, 4. Malezas, 6. Makos, 18. Ninis, 23. Loannnis, 9. Liberopoulos, 11. Mitroglou, 7. Gekas. 


Subs used:     

Sifakis (for Chalkias- 23 mins)-  6/10  A low save to get him going and looked more assured than his predecessor.  

Gekas (for Fotakis- 46)-  7.5/10  Reacted well to sub and scored goal to get Greeks back into the game. Was a constant threat afterwards although he couldn't add to his tally. 

Mitrolglu (for Fortounis- 71)-  2/10  Really not involved as much as he would have hoped.


Booked:         Torosidis (36), Papadopoulos (55), Salpingidis (57)


Czech Republic:


1. Cech-  5/10  Went AWOL for the goal by dropping another clanger and then selfishly began blaming his central defender for the lapse.   

2. Salassie-  7/10  Deep attacking adventure. Never missed an opportunity to venture forward. Assisted the second goal and defended stoutly.  

3. Kadlec-  7/10  Good performance. Nothing to do in the first hakf and dealt with eveything he had to do pretty easily.  

6. Sivok-  7/10  Looked nice and easy in central defence. Had nothing to worry about first half. Neat and tidy in second.  

8. Limbersky-  7/10  SLooked more assured first half for the newcomer. Good defensively. Could have got forward more. 

10. Rosicky (C)-  8/10  Excellent vision and range. Captain ran the midfield and a great pass for Salssie to set up the second goal. Unfortuantely went off injured at half time. 

17. Hubschman-  8/10  Brought in to sure things up at the back, and did that - better in the first half. Good passing as well and helped Rosicky in the middle of the park. Excellent pass for first goal. 

13. Plasil-  8.5/10  A wonderful player. Got another goal and always wants to attack. Has good tactical knowledge and awareness.   

14. Pilar-  9/10 Outstanding. Always a threat, always positive. Linked up well with midfielders and striker Baros, and always on the move. Took his goal well too. 

19. Jiracek- 9/10  World class performance by the Plzen star. Held the ball up well, ran with the ball and caused havoc amongst the Greece defenders, who didn't know if to stick or twist. Excellent finish for opener.  

15. Baros- 6/10  Lively start and used as the target man. Needed to be involved more in the second half. Subbed midway through secind period. 


Substitutes bench:-  
16. Lastuvka (GK), 23. Drobny (GK), 4. Sucky, 5. Hubnik, 12. Rajtoral, 9. Rezek, 11. Petrzela, 18. Kolar, 22. Darida, 7. Necid, 20. Pekhart, 21. Lafata. 


Subs used:     

Kolar (for Rosicky- 46 mins)-  4/10  Interesting player. Helped in midfield and wasn't afraid to get a tackle in. Lucky to stay on the pitch having committed numerous fouls.   

Pekhart (for Baros- 65)-  2.5/10  Really not involved. Ran the channels well but looked distant as the Czechs dropped deeper.


Booked:         Rosicky (26), Jiracek (37), 


My Man of the Match:    Petr Jiraceck (Czech Republic)- Rating 9/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:   Jose Holebas (Greece)- Rating 4.5/10

Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France)- 6.5/10
Attendance: 35,213

Match Facts:

Possession:  Greece- 54%               
Czech Republic- 52%

Shots at goal: Greece- 5               Czech Republic- 9

Shots on target: Greece- 4               Czech Republic- 4

Shots off target: Greece- 1               Czech Republic- 5

Corners: Greece- 1               Czech Republic- 4

Fouls: Greece- 15               Czech Republic- 22

Offsides: Greece- 4               Czech Republic- 3

Assists: Greece- None             Czech Republic- Hubschman & Gebre Salassie


Greece head coach Fernando Santos:  "We had a terrible start, and we were very poor defensively again. Some of the goals we conceded we haven't been doing so that is disappointing. We now need to win [against Russia] and if someone had said you need to do that in the final game - we would have taken it."

Czech Republic Manager Mikel Bilek:  "We will see on Wednesday the extent of Thomas [Rosicky]'s injury. He's important We missed him in the second half as he's a key player. Because we had Rosicky off the field so it took us a while to regain our mandate."

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