What a dramatic first day of Matchday 3 matches of EURO 2012. I didn’t see it coming for sure, with Russia being knocked out by EURO 2004 champions Greece in the last round of matches.
Russia were perhaps the favourites to qualify from a relatively easy Group A after demolishing Czech Republic 4-1 in their first game and then taking a point of Poland in the second. The third game pit them against strugglers Greece, but hardly anyone could have foretold the events that took place on Matchday 3.
Russia quite simply needed a point from the game, and even a loss could have sent them into the quarter finals had the other result went their way, but football does have this way of enticing spectators all over the world, as Russia crumbled to a 1-0 defeat to Greece and were sent packing.
It almost echoed the spirit and determination of Greece back in their 2004 campaign, as they shocked Andrey Arshavin and co. to reach the knockout stages.
Russia were the dominant force in the fixture, and they created chances aplenty, but were made to pay for their profligacy in shooting after Greece midfielder Karagounis (who won his 120th cap for country, equalling a national record) helped Greece to a 1-0 lead in stoppage time of the first half.
Alan Dzagoev proved to be as menacing as ever in the game, although he was guilty of having spurned several clear cut chances for the Russians. Dzagoev has been a revelation in his short time in the EUROs, managing 3 goals in 3 games for Russia. There will be no doubt that there will be lots of clubs chasing his signature once the EUROs are done and dusted come next month.
The other game saw the hosts succumbing to a 1-0 defeat to Czech Republic.
The most ironic part? The Czechs were beaten 4-1 by Russia on Matchday 1. Now, they’re qualifying for the knockout stages rather than the Russians. Don’t you just love football?