Man of the match: It was a curious halftime substitution, Greece bringing on a forward for somebody who could play midfield (after going a man down). Fernando Santos obviously knew his team well, because veteran Dimitris Salpingidis was the right move. In the 51st minute, Salpigidis poached an equalizer, and midway though the second, he won a penalty kick and red card, evening the numbers.
NBC Sports: Poland held by Greece as two sent off
As it happened: Monday’s action from Euro 2012’s opening night
Packaged for takeaway:
Aside from Przemyslaw Tyton’s penalty kick save (becoming the first substitute `keeper to save a kick in the tournament), the goalkeeping was terrible. Kostas Chalkias took himself out of position on Lewandowski’s opener, while a meek decision poorly executed left Wojciech Szcesny’s goal open for the equalizer. Szczesny also got himself sent off after he took down Salpingidis. Normally you’d saw Poland will miss him, but as bad as he was today (with little to do), they probably won’t.
As Gareth Southgate would later point out, Giorgios Karagounis had a ton of time to wait before the penalty kick. Tyton was allowed a lot of time to come on after Szczesny’s unexpected sending off.
It bares repeating: Poland abandoning the advantages they had down their right was ridiculous. The three best players on the field were Lewandowski, Blasczcykowski and Pisczcek, none of whom were a factor in the second.
Instead, Poland’s defense nearly gave away the game. Central defenders Damien Perquis and Marcin Wasilewski were continuously beaten by passes chipped over their head, while left back Sebastian Boensich kept Salpingidis onside on the play that saw Szczesny sent of.
Greece deserves a lot of credit, though. At halftime, I said Fernando Santos’s first priority needed to be keeping this a one goal game, the idea being Greece had little chance to advance should they leave the match with a -2 difference. Instead, Santos helped orchestrate an unexpected point.
But neither of these teams look like quarterfinal material. Group A is weak, but it’s not weak enough for the two teams we saw today to advance. Both teams need improved defenses before they take the field again on Tuesday. And it needs to be made clear to Poland’s players: They have to put in 90, not 30, minutes.
- What a disappointing result for Poland. You come out, dominate the first half hour, and take a one goal lead into half time with a man advantage. Then not only do you fail to get full points, you’re lucky to get one after a penalty kick isn’t converted.
- Experience is largely overrated (and overused, but commentators). Tonight, it really seemed to matter. Poland seemed naive in the second half, never working to put the game away when they had control. Greece, on the other hand, overcame their disadvantage and, by full time, were clearly the better side.
- After the first half hour, it was clear Poland had three advantages, none of which they used in the second half:
- Greece couldn’t handle the right side of Poland’s attack. Robert Lewandowski would come back and play forward to Jakub Blaszczykowski and Lukasz Piszczek (all Borussia Dortmund players). The combination was almost never stopped and produced Poland’s only goal (a first half header from Lewandowski from a Kuba cross). In the second half, Poland only threw Piszczek forward once.
- Poland was dominant on set pieces in the first, but in the second, they never pressured the Greece defense enough to earn more opportunities.
- And twice in the first half, Poland had jailbreak counter attack chances. Greece played too deep in the second to concede any counters.
ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.
- West Ham one loss in last 8 PL matches
- Liverpool won 4-1 in London on Nov. 4
- Reds lead all-time 70W-37D-28L
Liverpool can move second in the Premier League if it handles its business against West Ham United at Anfield on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).
The Reds enter the day two points and two goals of differential behind Manchester United, and are a point ahead of fourth-placed Chelsea. The Red Devils and Blues meet on Sunday.
WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE
A Mohamed Salah double led the Reds past the Irons in a London Stadium meeting earlier this season, but West Ham is a much different team under David Moyes.
Part of that is a firing Marko Arnautovic, who has seven goals and three assists in his last nine matches for West Ham.
The Irons announced the sale of Jose Fonte to Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang on Friday.
What they’re saying
Jurgen Klopp on Liverpool’s Spanish training camp: “As always with a training camp, you want the boys to be together the whole day. We are a lot together but not when we have time off so we had that time as well. The weather was brilliant and everything was easier – if you have to do hard work, which we did there, it is easier if the weather plays in your cards and that was a change of circumstance after a long winter. ”
West Ham’s Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez on the Irons renewed season: “We had our targets, but they changed. At the beginning of the season, we were aiming to qualify for European competition, but now we are fighting against relegation, but that is sport, that is football and part of life, so we need to accept it and try to be better and get out and see what’s going to happen next year. If we have all these players recovered, probably next year we are going to be fighting for a European position, you never know.”
The Reds are hard to predict, but the lay-off between their Porto triumph in the Champions League and Saturday’s match should benefit Liverpool. 2-1 to the hosts.
Mousa Dembele‘s been appreciated as a midfielder for sometime, but the Belgian is getting as many rave reviews as any other non-scorer these days.
Tottenham’s middle man got the twice-over from his manager on Friday, as Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino prepares for Crystal Palace.
[ MORE: Europa League draw ]
Calling Dembele a “genius,” Pochettino heaped praise on the 30-year-old.
“I’ve told you, I put him next to Ronaldinho, Maradona, Okocha – players I’ve been lucky enough to play with. For me he’s one of the unbelievable talents in the history of football.”
The temptation is to make a joke about Dembele being next to Ronaldinho and Maradona in the lobby of an awards ceremony, but the player has been dynamite for some time.
The advanced stats, for what they’re worth, aren’t incredibly kind to Dembele aside from his club-best 93 percent passing percentage and average of 2.2 successful dribbles per game. Still, it’s improbably hard to ignore the eye test, and Dembele passes that one every time.
Spurs are off to Selhurst Park for a Sunday match with Palace (Watch live at 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
Surely it was supposed to go a bit better than this: West Ham has moved center back Jose Fonte to the Chinese Super League.
Fonte, 34, is the latest member of Dalian Yifang, the Irons announced Friday. Reports say it’s a move for about $7 million.
[ MORE: Europa League draw ]
It ends an unexceptional 12 months for the center back, who made just 24 appearances for West Ham after engineering a move away from Southampton.
Fonte was publicly criticized by West Ham’s co-owner David Sullivan earlier this season as Sullivan said his children “begged him” not to sign Fonte and Robert Snodgrass last January. Ouch.
Injured for much of this season, Fonte was one of the Saints’ heroes as the club moved from the disappointment of League One to the Europa League.
Those heroics inspired this longform piece from Joe Prince-Wright.
Week 28 of the Premier League season is here and the main talking points are the battle for the top four and the ever-changing relegation situation.
[ MORE: Sign up for NBC Sports Gold ]
Remember: due to the League Cup final on Sunday, finalists Arsenal will host Manchester City on Thursday, Mar. 1 as they were also scheduled to play in the PL this weekend. That worked out smoothly.
The full TV schedule for the games this weekend are below, plus you can watch every single second of every single game live online via NBC Sports.com,the NBC Sports App and by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold.
Gold also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.
[ STREAM: Premier League live here ]
You can also watch Premier League “Goal Rush” at for all the goals as they go in around the grounds. Goal Rush is available via NBC Sports.com and the NBC Sports App.
[ MORE: Premier League “Goal Rush” ]
If you’re looking for full-event replays of Premier League games, you can find them here for the games streamed on NBCSports.com and here for the games on NBC Sports Gold.
Here’s your full TV schedule for the coming days. Enjoy.
FULL TV SCHEDULE
7:30 a.m. ET: Leicester City vs. Stoke City – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Ham – CNBC [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Bournemouth vs. Newcastle United – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Brighton vs. Swansea City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: Burnley vs. Southampton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
10 a.m. ET: West Brom vs. Huddersfield Town – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
12:30 p.m. ET: Watford vs. Everton – NBC [STREAM]
7 a.m. ET: Crystal Palace vs. Tottenham Hotspur – NBCSN [STREAM]
9:05 a.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Chelsea – NBCSN [STREAM]