The Washington Post

Euro 2012: Poland, Greece tie 1-1 in wild opener

Super-sub Dimitris Salpigidis helped Greece pull out a draw with this goal past Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny. (Matt Dunham/AP)

If the first match of Euro 2012 is any indicator of what is to come, this is going to be a wild and crazy tournament.

Poland and Greece played to a 1-1 draw in a match that began with plenty of drama and finished with only 20 men on the pitch.

Before a heavily partisan crowd at National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland jumped out to an ideal start when Robert Lewandowski headed home a brilliant cross from Jakub Blaszcykowski in the 17th minute. But a difficult first half for Greece turned disastrous in the 44th minute when a minor challenge from Sokratis Papasthathopoulous drew a second yellow card card and left his team with 10 men for the full second half.

Poland went into the intermission with all the momentum — but it wouldn’t last.

Only minutes into the second half substitute Dimitrios Salpingidis knocked home the equalizer after Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny botched an attempt to corral a cross in front.

But Szczesny’s rough day was just beginning. The Arsenal keeper came charging off his line to challenge Salpingidis on a breakaway and took out the Greek striker’s legs. The play earned him a red card and gave Greece a penalty to take the lead.

Przemyslaw Tyton of Poland came off the bench to save a penalty that preserved a tie for the host nation. (Shaun Botterill/GETTY IMAGES)

In the end, both sides were left both frustrated and fortunate. Down a goal and a man at the half, Greece was lucky to earn a point. But converting the penalty would have given them the win. For the Poles, a dream opening 45 minutes turned into a nightmare yet they managed to escape with a point of their own.

What does it mean? The already-wide-open Group A, which also features Russia and the Czech Republic, is completely up for grabs.


Euro 2012 scoreboard.

Euro 2012 schedule.

Euro 2012 teams.

Euro 2012 standings.

Top 15 players to watch

Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.


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