Alan Dzagoev scored his third goal of the European Championship and Jakub Blaszczykowski tied it in the second half as Russia and Poland played to a 1-1 draw on Tuesday in Warsaw.
Hooligans clashed with rival fans and police before and during the game played between the bitter rivals, leaving 15 injured while more than 100 people were detained.
After scattered fighting in the Polish capital before the match, police fired rubber bullets at a group of fans who attacked them with bottles and stones near an outdoor fan zone in central Warsaw where about 75,000 people were watching the game on huge screens.
None of the injured, including a police officer, were in life-threatening condition.
In the game, Russia took a 1-0 lead when Dzagoev darted past defender Lukasz Piszczek in the 37th minute and sent a header past Polish goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton after a curling free kick from Andrei Arshavin.
But Poland was rewarded for its attacking game plan in the 57th minute when Blaszczykowski cut in from the right and sent a searing left-footed drive into the far corner of the goal.
“I think we deserve praise because all of us put a lot into this match,” Blaszczykowski said. “The tactics we set up before the match we carried out 100 percent.”
The result left Russia at the top of Group A with four points but also kept alive Poland’s chances of qualifying for the quarterfinals.
“We’re still in the tournament, so with this point a win in our final match puts us into the knockout stage,” Blaszczykowski said.
About 5,000 Russian fans marched to the match at the National Stadium to celebrate the Russia Day national holiday. It was seen as provocative to many Poles. The two countries share a difficult history, including decades of control by Moscow over Poland during the Cold War. Many Poles felt authorities shouldn’t have allowed the Russians to march as a group in Warsaw given the historical wounds.
One of the most violent incidents occurred during the march. Polish hooligans attacked Russians, who responded violently. The two sides, made up of dozens of men, kicked and beat each other in the face, while flares could be seen exploding in their midst.
Associated Press journalists saw several people lying injured and bleeding on the ground. Poland and Russia fans were also seen fighting and throwing stones outside the stadium.
“To be honest, I haven’t seen or heard anything and nor have the players,” Russia coach Dick Advocaat said of the fighting. “I don’t know what has happened.”
Russia’s football federation pleaded with its fans to behave after video emerged online of supporters beating stewards at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland, during the country’s opening match against the Czech Republic, warning that more trouble could cost the team points.
UEFA opened disciplinary proceedings against the Russian federation following the trouble in Wroclaw.
Russia’s rampant attack in the opening 4-1 win over the Czechs was largely muzzled by a well-organized Polish defense.
“When we went 1-0 up, I thought we’d get more space like we did again the Czech Republic, but that didn’t happen,” Advocaat said. “We lost the ball too fast when we were going forward and they could counter.”
As it did in its opening 1-1 draw with Greece, Poland started strongly, but this time had to wait nearly an hour before finally converting a chance.
●CZECH REPUBLIC 2, GREECE 1: In Wroclaw, Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar scored in the first six minutes to keep the Czechs in contention in Group A.
Jiracek shot the ball past goalkeeper Costas Chalkias in the third minute after a pass from Tomas Hubschmann sliced through the Greek defense. Three minutes later, Pilar scored his second goal of the tournament, beating Greek defenders to a ball sent across the goal by Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie.
Substitute Fanis Gekas pulled one back for Greece in 53rd minute with a tap-in after Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech fumbled away the ball and bumped into defender Tomas Sivok.
“It was my mistake?” the Chelsea goalkeeper said. “I’d been playing well till then.”
The Greeks, who played without two key central defenders, nearly scored another in the 41st, but the header from Giorgos Fotakis was called back for offside.
The Greeks recovered well after their disastrous start, but lost another player when Chalkias limped off the field in the 23rd minute. He was replaced by Michalis Sifakis.
The Czech Republic has three points in the group with one match remaining, while Greece is in last place with one point.