Czechs too slick for Greece
Jiracek and Pilar goals keep Czech dreams alive
Last Updated: 12/06/12 8:34pm
Czech Republic kept alive their hopes of advancing to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012 after a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Greece in Group A.
The Czechs knew they were in real in danger of becoming the first side to be eliminated from the tournament had they lost.
But they made a lightening start, scoring twice inside the opening six minutes of the game at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw.
Tomas Hubschman's defence splitting pass was collected by Petr Jiracek and the striker stayed calm and composed to slot his left-foot shot past goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias.
And just three minutes later the Czech fans were in dreamland as Theodor Gebre Selassie found space down the right before his cross was turned into the back of the net by Vaclav Pilar's knee from close range, despite the attention of two defenders.
Greece thought they had pulled a goal back just before the break, but Giorgos Fotakis' header was harshly ruled out for offside.
However, eight minutes into the second half Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech gifted Greece a lifeline after fumbling Georgios Samaras' low cross on the edge of the box to the awaiting Theofanis Gekas, whose eyes lit up before calmly slotted the ball into a gaping goal.
The 2004 European Champions know now they will have to beat group favourites Russia in their final game to advance any further in the competition.
The Czechs' opening 4-1 loss to Russia left them knowing another defeat would end their hopes of reaching the last eight, but they could hardly have wished for a better opening.
Jiracek put them ahead in the third minute as he ran on to Hubschman's pass to fire home, despite Greek keeper Chalkias getting a hand to his left-footed shot.
Chalkias was then at fault for the second goal as he failed to cut out Gebre Selassie's low cross to allow Pilar to tap in his second goal of the tournament.
The lively Pilar came close to adding a third as he played a neat one-two on the edge of the area before firing just wide of the left-hand post.
Samaras had Greece's first sight of goal but the Celtic striker made a mess of meeting Vassilis Torosidis' cross.
Chalkias' miserable day continued as he was forced off after just 21 minutes, having pulled up after playing a pass out to his defenders, with Michalis Sifakis coming on to replace him.
Czech captain Tomas Rosicky was booked after his high boot caught his Greece counterpart Giorgios Karagounis on the head but the Czechs' dominance continued as Sifakis was forced into his first save by a low Rosicky drive.
Greece thought they had pulled a goal back five minutes before the break as Fotakis headed in a Torosidis cross, but he was harshly ruled to have been offside.
It should have been 3-0 seconds after the restart as the Czechs, whose captain Rosicky was replaced by Daniel Kolar at the break, again surged forward.
Gebre Selassie found more joy down the right but Milan Baros could not get the ball out of his feet when just 10 yards out.
But it was the Greeks who found the net next thanks to a calamitous mistake from Cech.
The Chelsea keeper came racing out for an aimless long ball but, distracted by Tomas Sivok, he lost control and substitute Gekas had the simple task of directing the loose ball into an empty net.
Buoyed by the goal Greece finally began to exert some control on the game with Karagounis and Samaras becoming increasingly prominent.But they struggled to create any genuine clear-cut chances, and struggled to test Cech after the Chelsea keeper's blunder, as the Czechs comfortably saw out the closing stages for a vital win.
|Greece||Team Statistics||Czech Republic|
|0||1st Half Goals||2|
|1||Shots on Target||3|
|2||Shots off Target||5|
|43.7||1st Half Poss.||56.3|
|63.6||2nd Half Poss.||36.4|
European Championships Group A
European Championships Group B
European Championships Group C
|4||Republic of Ireland||3||0|
European Championships Group D
Greece v Czech Republic
Greece head coach Fernando Santos rued his side's awful start as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Czech Republic.
We reflect on another impressive performance by Theodor Gebre Selassie for the Czech Republic.
We examine the Czech Republic's 2-1 win over Greece in Wroclaw on Tuesday.