As it happened, Euro 2012: Russia stay top, Czech Republic vaults second

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Euro 2012’s second round of group games kicks off today and will waste no time pushing on team face-to-face with elimination. Coming off their 4-1 loss Friday to Russia, the Czech Republic can book their return flight to Prague if they lose today’s first match to Greece.

That game kicks off at noon Eastern in Warsaw, with what’s likely to be Group A’s most entertaining game following at 2:45 p.m. Then, Russia will be in Warsaw to face co-hosts Poland, match that may or may not be embroiled in security concerns. Staging issues aside, Russia can clinch a quarterfinal spot with a win. If Greece and the Czech Republic draw, Russia can clinch first place.

We’ll be updating you on the day’s significant events below. In the interim, here’s some pre-match reading:

And now that you’re through skipping over the bullets, here’s Monday’s action:


(All times Eastern)

1637 – Poland 1-1 Russia, Final – A spectacular second half goal brings Poland back, earning the co-hosts a point. They’re on two points. Russia stays top of the group with four.

1632 – Poland 1-1 Russia – Into stoppage time, and Arashvin is gassed. He barely wants the ball anymore, and Russia doesn’t seem to know what to do in their attacking phase when Arshavin doesn’t want the ball.

1616 – Poland 1-1 Russia – Interesting, agressive substitution from Poland. Adrian Mierzejewski is on. Dudka is off. Mierzejewski will play on the right. Obraniak will play behind Lewandowski. Kuba’s on the left. Polanski and Murkawski are the midfield.

1613 – Poland 1-1 Russia – Vyacheslav Malafeev’s called into action again as Poland works through the right channel before cutting back for Polanski, who thumps a sharp angle shot on goal.

Both sides might have a goal in them. The game’s reasonably open.

Roman Pavlyuchenko’s come on for Aleksandr Kerzhakov.

1600 – Poland 1-1 Russia – Poland on a counter gets Ludomir Obraniak on the same side as Jacob Blaszczykowski. It’s too much for Yuri Zkirkov to handle, as he loses Kuba on a run cutting toward the box. Obraniak with a perfect ball allows Blasczzykowski to touch the ball back toward the middle as Sergei Ignashevich passes by. Ten yards later, Kuba let go of a shot into the left of net, evening the game at one.

1552 – Poland 0-1 Russia – Russia’s got to get better on set pieces or else John Heitenga will get on the scoresheet in the quarterfinal. Three time this half, Poland players have had relatively uncontested headers.

1548 – Poland 0-1 Russia – We are back. Doesn’t look like there were any changes. We’ll see when and if Poland turns it on.

1534 – Poland 0-1 Russia, Halftime – And that’s halftime, and what a half by the Russians. Poland came out and looked the better side, but Russia waited them out and found the opener. Along the way, they’ve started neutralizing Robert Lewandowski, making it near-impossible for Poland to get out of their own half.

After the tournament moved on from its opening day, I started thinking Russia’s Friday performance was a bit aberrational. Against an opponent that’s performing much better than the Czech Republic did last week, Russia’s reaffirming they’re the real deal.

1524 – Poland 0-1 Russia – After 30 strong minutes from Poland, Russia has not only withstood the assault, they find themselves in the lead.

Andrei Arshavin, restarting from the right, 23 yards out, whips in an unbelievable ball that finds Alan Dzagoev, who is up to three goals in the tournament. Quick notes on the goal: Yuri Zhirkov’s effort to keep the ball in attack drew the foul on Marcin Wasilewski as the Russia left back bolted forward; Poland looked to be zonal marking and saw one channel flooded (and Arshavin found the channel that it looked like Lukasz Pisczcek was guarding); very impressive for the Russians to hold out, take control, and score. Poland were so strong at the opening whistle.

1519 – Poland 0-0 Russia – Poland’s defensive shape is 4-1-4-1 with forward Robert Lewandowski coming very deep to help congest the midfield. The room we saw Roman Shirokov and Konstantin Zyryanov have against the Czech Republic just isn’t there. When they can get the ball to Alan Dzagoev and Andrei Arshavin, there is a little room to create without the second holding midfielder. But Poland seems to have made a good call by getting a second central midfielder to the level where Shirokov and Zyryanov should be getting the ball.

Russia is dominating possession right now, but there’s doing nothing with it. After 5-6 touches they usually play an over-weighted through ball (Poland’s line forcing it to be hit hard) or put a cross out.

1506 – Poland 0-0 Russia – Russia has held much of the possession over the last 10 minutes, but some nice coordination from Poland’s defense has allowed a number of Russia’ through balls to roll on to Przemyslaw Tytón. Russia has been able to get into attack down their right, when Alan Dzagoev is dragging Boesnich in, providing room for Aleksandr Anyukov.

Going the other way, Poland had a beautiful, five-pass movement that led to a corner kick and also showed Russia another way they are going to be dangerous.

1454 – Poland 0-0 Russia – Poland with the first good chances of the match. Ludomir Obraniak’s restart from the right flank is perfect, dropping it right outside the six yard box, where Sebastian Boesnich nails a header down toward the goal line. A great save my Vyacheslav Malafeev keeps the game scoreless. Second later, a Poland corner finds Boesnich again, his latest try forcing a leaping grab.

Russia was poor in the air versus the Czech Republic, but Michal Bilek wouldn’t bring on anybody to take advantage of it. Here, Poland’s showing they can, and with the advantages they have down their right, this could be match-deciding edge.

Poland has started very strong.

1446 – Poland 0-0 Russia – And we are off.

1435 – Here are the lineups:

Russia: Malafeev, Anyukov, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Berezutski, Shirokov, Denisov, Zyryanov, Dzagoev, Arshavin, Kerzhakov SUBS: Akinfeev, Shunin, Sharonov, Granat, Nababkin, Izmailov, Kombarov, Kokorin, Glushakov, Semshov, Pavlyuchenko, Pogrebnyak.

It’s an unchanged team from Russia.

Poland: Tytoń, Boenisch, Wasilewski, Perquis, Piszczek, Dudka, Polanski, Obraniak, Murawski, Błaszczykowski, Lewandowski SUBS: Sandomierski, Wojtkowiak, Kamiński, Wawrzyniak, Matuszczyk, Rybus, Mierzejewski, Wolski, Grosicki, Sobiech, Brożek.

One change for Poland. Darius Dudka is coming in for Maciej Rybus. It looks like that will move Rafal Murawski up a level, push Ludomir Obraniak left, with Dudka playing beside Eugen Polanski deep in midfield.

1433 – Satiated? Good. Here’s our Offshore drilling.

1351 – Greece 1-2 Czech Republic, Final – Two goals in the first six minutes decided the came, with the Czechs now in position to advance with a win over Poland on Saturday. Greece got a gift goal and plenty of time to find an equalizer, but with a match with Russia to close their Group A schedule, Greece is barely in this tournament.

Match report in about 30. Go get a bite to eat, will ya?

1347 – Greece 1-2 Czech Republic – Neither sides creating chances but the Czech Republic holding enough of the ball to kill time, Michal Pilek makes his final chance. Daniel Kolar, who came on at halftime for Tomas Rosicky, comes off. Frantisek Rajtoral is brought on to reinforce the defense.

1336 – Greece 1-2 Czech Republic – Santos’s last set of changes has moved Samaras farther left and farther back, and he’s been able to provide another route into attack, carrying the ball along the left side. You could see the passing for Giorgios Karagounis and long balls for Kostas Katsouranis eventually providing Greece and equalizer, but right now they’re not generating many chances.

1327 – Greece 1-2 Czech Republic – Greece is preparing to make their final substitution, and it will be an attacking one. Kostas Mitroglou will come on. Young Kostas Fortounis will come off. Between Mitroglou, Fanis Gekas, Samaras and Salpingidis, this is about as attacking as Greece can be.

1322 – Greece 1-2 Czech Republic – Czechs had made another change. Milan Baros is off. Tomas Pakhart is on. Baros was pretty useless.

1310 – Greece 1-2 Czech Republic – Petr Cech and Tomas Sivok combine to gift Greece a goal, giving them hope. A passionless ball from Giorgios Samaras on the right bounces toward the spot. Cech’s coming for what looks like an each grab, but he and Sivok collide. The ball rolls to Theofanis Gekas who has an easy finish into an open net.

Looking at the replay, Cech had lost control of the ball before he an Sivok (not Kadlec) collided. He just got kind of spooked by the defender and lost control of the situation.

1302 – Greece 0-2 Czech Republic – We’re back. Second half has started. Each team makes one halftime chance. Tomas Rosicky is off for the Czechs with Viktoria Plzen’s Daniel Kolar on. That’s either an injury or preservation. For Greece, Theofanis Gekas on for the relatively anonymous Giorgos Fotakis.

1301 – Greece 0-2 Czech Republic, Halftime – Some numbers … Possession: Czech Republic 51-49; Shots: Czech Republic 6-2; Shots on target: Czech Republic 3-2.

1247 – Greece 0-2 Czech Republic, Halftime – That’s halftime, and as you can tell by the (in)frequency of updates, thinks slowed down dramatically after the opening fireworks. The Czech Republic still looked the better them but only tested Sifakis once. At the other end, Greece never worried Petr Cech. Their best rout into attack has been Katsouranis playing long balls out of the back, but Samaras has not been able to win enough of them.

Who needs coffee?

1221 – Greece 0-2 Czech Republic – Greece goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias plays a ball out an raises his hand to the bench. He needs to come off. Michalis Sifakis comes in, the second match in a row Greece has been forced into a first half substitution.

1219 – Greece 0-2 Czech Republic – Greece has come into the match, evening things from the Czechs’ rousing opening. Neither team’s creating any decent chances. Greece looks a little more sure of themselves at the back, though they seem to have few options in attack when they try to get forward.

1206 – Greece 0-2 Czech Republic – This has been a horror tournament for Jose Holebas. Right back Theodor Gebre Selassie beats Holebas to the line, cuts it into the six where Vaclav Pilar wins a battle with Katsouranis, scoring his second goal of the tournament.

1205 – Greece 0-1 Czech Republic – Pre-match we speculated Giannis Maniatis would drop back and play central defense. It’s actually Kostas Katsouranis.

1203 – Greece 0-1 Czech Republic – Petr Jiracek has put the Czech up within three minutes. Tomas Hubschman finds Petr Jiracek cutting across Jose Holebas from the right. He’s in on got and finishes into the right netting. It’s 1-0.

1200 – Greece 0-0 Czech Republic – We’re off, with Greece moving from left to right.

1155 – Teams are on the field and listen to/singing their anthems. Kick off is minutes away.

1117 – We’re still a long way from the top of the hour kickoff, but here are your lineups and my obligatory picks:

Czech Republic: Čech, Gebre Selassie, Kadlec, Sivok, Limberský, Rosický, Plašil, Pilař, Hübschman, Jiráček, Baroš SUBS: Laštuvka, Drobný, Suchý, Hubník, Rajtoral, Rezek, Petržela, Kolář, Darida, Necid.

Two changes for the Czechs. Viktoria Plzen’s David Limbersky comes in at the back for Roman Hubnik while defensive midfielder Tomas Hubschman gets the start, pushing Jan Rezek to the bench. That likely moves Jaroslav Plasil higher in the formation (into the attacking line of the Czech Republic’s 4-2-3-1). Huschman’s set to start next to Petr Jiracek in front of the defense.

Greece: Chalkias, Maniatis, Papadopoulos, Torossidis, Holebas, Karagounis, Fotakis, Katsouranis, Fortounis, Samaras, Salpingidis SUBS: Tzorvas, Sifakis, Tzavellas, Malezas, Makos, Ninis, Fetfatzidis, Liberopoulos, Mitroglou, Gekas, Pekhart, Lafata.

As we speculated in the preview, Fernando Santos seems to have dropped midfielder Giannis Maniatis into defense, with both Greece’s starting center halves out for this one. Nineteen-year-old Kostas Fourtounis will take his place in midfield. There are two other changes. Sotiris Ninis and Theofanis Gekas go to the bench.  Giorgos Fotakis and first match hero Dimitris Salpingidis are in the XI.

Picks for today? I have Greece 2-1 and Poland to upset Russia by the same score.
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.

Moore takes hold of West Brom’s promotion bid

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Darren Moore‘s spell as West Brom caretaker manager couldn’t quite pull off a miraculous run to Premier League safety, but the promise it contained has helped him to the first chance at earning promotion back to the top flight.

West Bromwich Albion announced Moore as its new manager on Monday, with the boss promising his Baggies would play attractive football while also being a side “that’s willing to fight and scrap for every ball.”

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Moore is also happy to carry a flame for minority coaches — called BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) — in England.

“If it does inspire others, I would be extremely proud,” he said. “I don’t just speak on behalf of BAME coaches but the young, aspiring British coaches across the board.”

Moore, 44, only lost one of his six PL matches as WBA boss, winning three times and inspiring many to wonder what would’ve happened had the Baggies’ pulled the plug on Alan Pardew — and Tony Pulis before him — earlier.

A center back in his playing career, Moore spent 18 seasons between a number of clubs including West Brom, Derby County, and Doncaster Rovers. He won promotion as a player twice with West Brom, and again with Derby.

Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan

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BRUSSELS (AP) Belgium left midfielder Radja Nainggolan out of its World Cup squad despite a standout season with Champions League semifinalist Roma.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has long had a difficult relationship with the stormy midfielder. But after being called up for a warm-up game in March against Saudi Arabia, expectations had been that he would be on the 28-man roster announced Monday.

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On top of the troubled relationship, Nainggolan was also the victim of the unparalleled wealth of talent the small nation has produced over the past few years.

Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were all named in the squad, which will be cut to 23 before the World Cup.

Nashville MLS expansion club snares ex-Liverpool CEO Ayre

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Former Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre is moving from Merseyside to the Music City.

The Tennesseean’s Joe Rexrode says Ayre is set to take the reins of Nashville SC as the first CEO in club history when it makes its debut in the 2020 MLS season.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Liverpool hired ex-EA Sports executive Peter Moore to replace Ayre in 2017 after the latter, 54, spent six years with the club as managing director and then CEO.

From the Tennessean:

“The MLS has huge ambitions to be one of the biggest and leading leagues in the world, and is on that trajectory,” Ayre said. “Both as a soccer fan and an executive in the industry, it’s something I’ve had my eye on because it’s important. … You talk about MLS and its growth, I think it’s becoming easier and will become easier to attract the right talent to something that’s exciting and developing. And if you have a reputation of being involved in a club like Liverpool, you hope that stands for something when you start to try and attract talent.”

The timing of Ayre’s addition hearkens back to that of former Tottenham executive Darren Eales at Atlanta United. If it has the same success, Nashville will be proud.

Report: Lampard interviews twice with Championship club

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Steven Gerrard‘s longtime England midfield mate Frank Lampard could soon be joining him in a management.

While Gerrard is tasked with rebuilding Rangers’ Scottish title push, Lampard’s reported new gig would entail leading Ipswich Town back to the Premier League for the first time since 2002.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Sky Sports says Lampard has already interviewed twice with Ipswich Town ownership in a bid to earn his first senior management gig.

Lampard, 39, played for Chelsea, Man City, New York City FC, West Ham United, and Swansea in a sparkling 20-year playing career.

Town finished 12th in the Championship, 15 points back of a playoff spot and 19 clear of relegation.