The Czech Republic took full advantage of a reshuffled Greek defence and were able to win 2-1 despite a Petr Cech howler.
The second match in Group A saw the two ‘weaker’ sides go head-to-head after Greece held Poland to a draw and the Czechs were crushed by Russia. It was a bad start for Greece, who lost both first-choice centre-backs after Sokratis Papastathopoulos was suspended and Avram Papadopoulos injured for the rest of the tournament, so Kostas Katsouranis had to be redirected into defence.
The Czech Republic broke the deadlock after two and a half minutes of play. A smart pass from Milan Baros sent Petr Jiracek through to sweep in from the edge of the box despite goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias getting his hand to it.
The Greek defence was makeshift and it showed, as moments later they were torn apart again. Theodor Gebre Selassie burst down the right and pulled back from the by-line for Vaclav Pilar to bundle it over the line from point-blank range.
More bad news with goalkeeper Chalkias limping off due to a suspected thigh strain, making way for Michalis Sifakis rather than expected second choice Alexandros Tzorvas, the Palermo flop. The new shot-stopper palmed a long-range Tomas Rosicky effort round the post.
Greece got the ball in the back of the net on 40 minutes, but it didn’t count because the flag was up – for the tightest of decisions by a matter of inches – on the Giorgos Fotakis header.
Petr Cech handed Greece a step back into the game after the restart with an absolute howler! The Chelsea goalkeeper fumbled a simple Giorgos Samaras cross, allowing substitute Fanis Gekas to slot into the empty net.
Fortunately for Cech, there were precious few other opportunities in the second half and his team held on to the lead. It's now very difficult for Greece to stay in the tournament after one point from two games.
Greece 1-2 Czech Republic
Scorers: Jiracek 3 (C), Pilar 6 (C), Gekas 53 (G)
Greece: Chalkias (Sifakis 23); Torossidis, K Papadopoulos, Katsouranis, Holebas; Fotakis (Gekas 46), Maniatis, Karagounis; Salpingidis, Samaras, Fortounis (Mitroglu 71)
Czech Republic: Cech; Gebre Selassie, Sivok, M Kadlec, Limbersky; Hubschman, Plasil; Jiracek, Rosicky (Kolar 46) (Rajtoral 90), Pilar; Baros (Pekhart 64)
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