Greece caused a massive upset by beating Group A leaders Russia and knocking them out of Euro 2012 with a shock 1-0 win!
Russia were top of the group and unbeaten on four points, while Euro 2004 winners Greece had just one point to their name and could still qualify with a victory. Fanis Gekas and Michalis Sifakis stepped in for the injured Kostas Fortounis and Kostas Chalkias.
These teams were meeting for the third consecutive Euros and Russia hoped to maintain their 100 per cent record, though even a draw would suffice to send them through.
Greece absolutely needed the victory and early on Vyacheslav Malafeev needed a strong hand to flap a flicked-on corner off the feet of Gekas. Vassilis Torossidis had another effort charged down, though after 10 minutes Andrey Arshavin’s volley was straight at Sifakis.
Russia started to take more of the initiative and Yuri Zhirkov pulled back for Aleksandr Kerzhakov, but Kostas Katsouranis dived in to block. Greece were increasingly pushed into their own half, as Kyriakos Papadopoulos stopped Roman Shirokov’s pass reaching Kerzhakov in the six-yard box.
Kerzhakov wasted a golden opportunity with a mis-kick in the box, while Shirokov had penalty appeals waved away and Zhirkov skimmed the bar from a corner.
It was all Russia, but in first half stoppages Greece pounced on a rare error to take the shock lead. Zhirkov allowed a throw-in to go past him and Giorgos Karagounis kept his cool to smash the angled drive beneath Malafeev. It was a well-taken goal by the former Inter midfielder, who had a penalty saved in the opening game.
As expected, Russia poured forward right from the restart, but this allowed Greece to operate on the counter and Torossidis burst past Zhirkov to roll across the face of goal, where Aleksandr Anyukov made a desperate clearance for a corner.
There was also controversy, as Karagounis was booked for simulation when he appeared to be tripped by Sergei Ignashevich. To add insult to injury, the captain will be suspended for the quarter-final and looked utterly distraught.
Greece remained dangerous, as a Tzavelas missile of a free kick smacked against the crossbar with Malafeev rooted to the spot.
News also filtered through that the Czech Republic had taken the lead over Poland, meaning with these scores Russia would go out of the tournament.
Alan Dzagoev’s glancing header flashed across the face of goal to skim the far post from Arshavin’s cross. Russia pushed and pushed, but seemed to run out of ideas and were incredibly knocked out of Euro 2012.
Greece 1-0 Russia
Scorers: Karagounis 45 (G)
Greece: Sifakis; Torossidis, Papastathopoulos, K Papadopoulos, Tzavellas; Katsouranis, Maniatis; Salpingidis (Ninis 83), Karagounis (Makos 67), Samaras; Gekas (Holebas 64)
Russia: Malafeev; Anyukov (Izmailov 81), A Berezutski, Ignashevich, Zhirkov; Shirokov, Denisov, Glushakov (Pogrebnyak 72); Dzagoev, Kerzhakov (Pavlyuchenko 46), Arshavin
Ref: Eriksson (Swe)