Przemyslaw Tyton was the hero when he came off the bench to save a penalty, as Euro 2012 opened with two red cards and a 1-1 draw between Poland and Greece.
The Greeks were unbeaten in 10 going into this match and could count on new Parma signing Sotiris Ninis, but had lost all eight of their previous games on Polish soil and were missing both first choice centre-backs.
The co-hosts had a strong start as Kostas Chalkias palmed a Rafal Murawski shot out from under the bar, then Robert Lewandowski was inches away from nodding in a taut Lukasz Piszczek cross.
The pressure paid off on 17 minutes when a cross from the right found Lewandowski’s free header at the back post, as goalkeeper Chalkias mistimed his run off the line and was stranded.
Greece also lost Avraam Papadopoulos due to an injury in the first half, but had a lucky escape when Damien Perquis blazed wide from a poor clearance.
It got worse for the Greek side, as before half-time former Genoa and Milan defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos received two very harsh yellow cards and was sent off in the opening game of Euro 2012.
Moments later further controversy, as Perquis slipped in the box and landed with his arm on the ball, but the referee waved play on.
Greece finally got a stroke of luck when goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny mistimed his rush off the line and allowed substitute Dimitris Salpingidis to fire into the empty net.
It was a Szczesny error that sparked the equaliser and the Arsenal shot-stopper got it wrong again, as he came out to trip Salpingidis when clear on goal. The referee could not avoid the penalty and red card. Giorgos Karagounis stepped up, but substitute goalkeeper Tyton saved the spot-kick with his first touch. It made the PSV Eindhoven shot-stopper an instant hero for the co-hosts.
Salpingidis thought he’d made it 2-1 for Greece, but there was a very tight offside decision in the build-up.
Poland 1-1 Greece
Scorers: Lewandowski 17 (P), Salpingidis 51 (G)
Poland: Szczesny; Piszczek, Wasilewski, Perquis, Boenisch; Murawski, Polanski; Błaszczykowski, Obraniak, Rybus (Tyton 69); Lewandowski
Greece: Chalkias; Torossidis, Papastathopoulos, A Papadopoulos (K Papadopoulos 37), Holebas; Maniatis, Katsouranis, Karagounis; Ninis (Salpingidis 46), Gekas (Fortounis 68), Samaras
Ref: Velasco Carballo (Spa)
Sent off: Papastathopoulos 44 (G), Szczesny 69 (P)
Saved penalty: Karagounis 70 (G)
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