Euro boost for Greeks
Karagounis books quarter-final berth as Russia crash out
Last Updated: June 16, 2012 10:00pm
Greece may be having euro problems back home, but a 1-0 victory over Russia on Saturday means they will grace the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.
Vastly-experienced skipper Giorgos Karagounis marked the occasion of his 120th international cap with arguably his most important goal in the colours of his country.
A forgettable first half was drawing to a close when the 35-year-old midfielder suddenly burst into life.
Sergei Ignashevich failed to deal with a routine throw down the line, allowing Karagounis to spring clear and drill low under Vyacheslav Malafeev.
A narrow win, coupled with a 1-0 victory for the Czech Republic over co-hosts Poland, proved to be enough to see 2004 champions Greece, who started the day bottom of Group A, into the last eight at Russia's expense.
Dick Advocaat's men went into Saturday's game in the dangerous position of knowing they needed only a draw to reach the quarter-finals, with even a defeat not necessarily fatal.
It was win or bust for their opponents, who got off to the fast start they failed to produce in their previous games by winning a succession of early corners.
Malafeev made an acrobatic save from one of them when Kostas Katsouranis hooked Karagounis' sixth-minute delivery within reach of the goalkeeper - although it was going wide anyway.
Vassilis Torossidis also had a shot blocked before Russia's technical superiority began to show, Andrey Arshavin poking Alan Dzagoev's 10th-minute cross straight at Sifakis and Aleksandr Kerzhakov inches wide with a superb 20-yard half-volley.
Yuri Zhirkov spoilt a thrilling break with a wayward cutback and Kerzhakov should have done better seven minutes from half-time when he produced an embarrassing air shot from Dzagoev's knockdown.
Zhirkov also sent a stunning long-ranger inches over the top as the half looked to end goalless until Karagounis pounced on a loose header before drilling the ball under Malafeev.
Russia boss Advocaat took immediate action by hauling off Kerzhakov for Roman Pavlyuchenko after the interval before seeing Roman Shirokov and Igor Denisov both fail from long range.
Greece would have doubled their lead shortly before the hour mark had Aleksandr Anyukov not succeeded with a desperate clearance to prevent Theofanis Gekas turning in Torossidis' cross.
And they were denied a 61st-minute penalty when Karagounis danced his way through the Russia defence and went down after touching legs with Ignashevich.
There was definite contact but referee Jonas Eriksson thought otherwise and booked a distraught Karagounis.
Manager Fernando Santos quickly withdrew the midfielder for Grigoris Makos after sending on Jose Holebas for Gekas.
Zhirkov was yellow carded for hauling back Dimitris Salpingidis and was lucky to avoid further punishment when Giorgos Tzavellas curled a beautiful free-kick against the angle of post and crossbar.
Russia were losing their discipline and Tzavellas was the victim of a crude challenge by Dzagoev, who was booked.
Advocaat threw on Pavel Pogrebnyak for Denis Glushakov as news the Czechs had taken the lead in their game - leaving his side needing to score - filtered through.
Denisov drilled a fine first-time strike too close to Sifakis before Russia's last throw of the dice saw Marat Izmailov replace Anyukov.
Greece responded by withdrawing Salpingidis for Sotiris Ninis for the final seven minutes as the men in red poured forward, Dzagoev glancing Arshavin's header inches beyond the post.It was all Russia in the dying seconds but all they could manage was a Pogrebnyak booking for deliberate handball.
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|2||Shots on Target||2|
|4||Shots off Target||17|
|30.7||1st Half Poss.||69.3|
|27.1||2nd Half Poss.||72.9|
European Championships Group A
European Championships Group B
European Championships Group C
|4||Republic of Ireland||3||0|
European Championships Group D
Greece v Russia
Greece coach Fernando Santos has praised his players for giving hope to a troubled nation as they reached the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.
Giorgos Karagounis experienced a range of emotions as he led Greece to victory over Russia.
We look at the key talking points in Greece's victory over Russia which saw them into the last eight.