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.
After being named the NCAA Soccer Men’s Player of the Week, Spanish junior Albert Ruiz went out and set the base for a repeat.
The Florida Gulf Coast striker scored three goals in three minutes and 19 seconds on Tuesday, and the Eagles are battering visiting Rutgers.
[ MORE: Pochettino happy with “must win” defeat of CSKA ]
Not only that, but three goals all came before the game was 10 minutes old (9:02 to be exact). The team’s Twitter account says that’s a record to start a game, besting the record was set by Indiana’s Steve Burks on Oct. 6, 1973. Burks scored his three goals by the 11:41 mark of the first half.
If you look at the clock, too, we think it’s more like nine minutes on the dot.
Ruiz scored seven times in 11 games as a sophomore, and is battering that impressive mark this year. It’s not even halftime at FGCU, and he’s up to 11 goals in his ninth game of the season. That puts him into a tie with Buffalo’s Russell Cicerone for the most goals in men’s D1 soccer (and Ruiz has more than 45 minutes to play).
The 6-foot-2 forward is going to be attracting a lot of attention, especially considering this is his second hat trick in 10 days.
Manchester City visits White Hart Lane for a match-up of this early season’s first and second place Premier League clubs.
City will have one less day of rest than its Premier League rivals, though both are coming off road matches in Europe.
Spurs beat CSKA Moscow 1-0 on Tuesday, while Man City is battling Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany a day later.
[ MORE: Pochettino happy with “must win” defeat of CSKA ]
A win would pull Spurs to within a point of the leaders, while a City victory would guarantee, at-worst, a five-point table advantage for Pep Guardiola‘s bunch.
Kickoff is at 9:15 a.m. ET Sunday, and our own Joe Prince-Wright has the preview for you with the latest PST Extra (above).
While it’s easy to call any match “must win” after you’ve won, there’s little doubt how badly Spurs needed their 1-0 win at CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
[ MORE: Champions League roundup ]
After making the long hike to Russia, Spurs controlled the match. Both Erik Lamela and Son Heung-min were lively but couldn’t break down the CSKA back line until Son finished a late chance.
From the BBC:
“That was a very important victory. Important to be in the race for the next round of the Champions League. This was a must win game, we are second in the group now but it is still all open.”
And Son admits it was a bit fortunate, as his shot was slowed by Akinfeev before inching across the line.
“This is a good time but also a lucky time. I try every game to score. We are very happy to win this game.”
Spurs are a point behind Monaco, who won at White Hart Lane in both teams’ Group E openers. Next up is a tricky visit from Bayer Leverkusen.
When it comes to quotes, Claudio Ranieri is one of the best.
The Leicester City manager was put on the spot after Tuesday’s 1-0 UEFA Champions League win over Porto, and handled it well.
[ MORE: USMNT’s Pulisic, BVB best Madrid ]
Asked about his name appearing on betting sites as a favorite to replace disgraced England boss Sam Allardyce — who left the job Tuesday — Ranieri responded with a nod to Leicester’s long odds-defying Premier League title run.