Greece have managed to hold Poland to a 1-1 draw in a dramatic opening match at Euro2012.
Fernando Santos’ men overcame a tardy start, where they looked like they did not belong at the Euro finals, to finish with a flurry to almost snatch a victory from the hands of the Poles.
Hosts Poland went ahead in the 17th minute when star striker Robert Lewandowski headed home Jakub Blaszczykowski’s righting cross at the back post and it should have been 2-0 not long after when Damien Perquis fired wide from close range.
The match was then turned on its head moments before half-time when Sokratis Papastathopoulos was shown a second yellow card by referee Carlos Velasco Carballo to be sent off in very soft circumstances.
However, six minutes into the second half, Greece levelled when substitute Dimitris Salpingidis was able to convert from close range after Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny failed to clear Vassilis Torosidis’ cross from the right.
Things got worse for the Arsenal gloveman with about 20 minutes remaining when he was shown a straight red for bringing down the dangerous Salpingidis, who had gotten on the end of a rightwing cross, forcing Poland coach Franciszek Smuda to bring on Przemyslaw Tyton to take the gloves.
The PSV Eindhoven man was able to guess the right way when Greece skipper Giorgios Karagounis took his spot-kick, allowing Greece an unlikely point after such a torrid start. For Poland it would certainly feel like an opportunity lost but football is played for 90 minutes and a strong beginning is never enough.
Euro2012 – Group A
Poland: 1 (Robert Lewandowski 17’)
Greece: 1 (Dimitris Salpingidis 51’)
National Stadium, Warsaw
Yellow cards: POL - nil
GRE - Sokratis Papastathopoulos 35’/44’, Jose Holebas 45+2’, Giorgios Karagounis 54’
Red cards: POL - Wojciech Szczesny 68’
GRE - Sokratis Papastathopoulos 44’