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Euro 2012: Greece eliminates Russia, Poland crashes out

Greece Russia (Getty Images)

Russia entered their final group stage match needing just a draw to secure qualification. That seemed like a given to most considering how well the first-place team had looked offensively at Euro 2012.

No one told Greece that.

Greece eliminated Russia from the tournament in stunning fashion, pulling out a 1-0 victory courtesy of a first-half stoppage time goal from Giorgos Karagounis on Saturday. The Greek captain took advantage of a poor header, raced in on goal and fired home the winner seconds before the final whistle of the first half.

The Russians tried desperately to find an equalizer, but they never found it. Russia and Greece finished Group A on four points each but the latter advanced to the quarterfinals due to the head-to-head tiebreaker and despite having a worse goal differential.

Greece will take on the winner of Group B on June 22 in the quarterfinals.

In Group A's other game on Monday:


Petr Jiracek broke the hearts of tournament co-hosts Poland, scoring the winner in Czech Republic's 1-0 victory on Saturday. The result combined with Russia's surprise loss to Greece gave Czech Republic first place of Group A.

Having tied their opening two matches of the tournament, Poland realistically needed a victory to advance in the competition. But Jiracek crushed the hopes of the dozens of thousands of Polish fans in attendance at Municipal Stadium when he broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute on a Czech Republic counter attack.

Czech Republic finished the group with six points while Poland ended up with two. The Czechs will meet the runner-up in Group B in the quarterfinals on June 21.

What do you think of the results? How surprised are you by Russia's elimination? Think Czech Republic can go far in this tournament?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. I hear you RB, but how a team performs over the course of a few games sets up that final day, when it counts most and all chips are on the table. who can perform then?

    as for MLS Cup or Supporter’s Shield winner, they measure two different things, one a season’s accomplishments and the other who plays best in a tournament format at that time. They are both winners to me.

    since the Euro and WC are tournament formats, I think it’s beautiful when the teams that advance have to perform on that final day…who can rise up vs. who has tightening shorts.

    to me that makes for interesting and compelling viewing, the measurement of a team’s heart when the pressure is on, along with the beautiful goals and saves and playmaking

    good conversation, thanks for your insights

  2. I’m inclined to go with HtH myself, as it just seems so counterintuitive to go against what happened in a HtH match-up. But I think it’s emphasizing what happened in a single match-up at the expense of overall performance over the course of many games (as again underscored by beachbum’s comments, for example). And this is not usually what people around here like.

    For example, if you’re going to say that what happened between 2 teams “when it counted”, you know, even if that was contrary to how each team performed over the course of multiple games, well then I guess you’re going to have to turn around and back the notion that the MLS champ is the MLS Cup winner rather than the Supporters’ Shield winner. Yet that notion usually generates howls, you know, among many many American soccer fans…

  3. Good post. I would say that maybe head-to-head might be good for stating who was better when it counted… More goals doesn’t necessarily make you the better team… That’s just my thought.

  4. disagree 100%. it’s much better to use HtH.

    So Portugal scoring 7 goals vs. North Korea at the last WC showed their superior quality? or showed that they could only play against minnows?

    Russia laying an egg in the deciding game of the group–the one with the most pressure packed into it–exposed their weaknesses under pressure. No way they displayed better than Greece so far

  5. Thats a little more difficult. Holland would be behind Denmark theoretically because Denmark beat Holland, but if Holland beat Portugal and Portugal beat Denmark, who’s ahead in that case? That’s probably a case that comes down to goal differential…

  6. “Head to head is obviously a better way to determine witch team is the better one, since, well, that team beat the other one.”

    Not obvious at all, it you’re trying to determine which team was the better one _in the tournament_ up to this point. Over the course of 3 matches, Russia and Greece each garnered 4 points, but Russia outscored their opponents by 2 goals, whereas Greece gave up to their opponents as many goals as they scored against those opponents. That is a good argument that _in this tournament_, Russia was better than Greece through those first 3 matches.

  7. Well of course the results of the actual gameS are taken into account by the point system and then also by GD, whereas HtH highlights the result of just a single game. (Well, a single game in this case, at least, though it’s the simplest and most common type of case.)

    The issue might be magnified in other settings, too, such as when HtH outweighs GD in a tie-break involving placement of teams at the end of an entire season (rather than just the initial group stage of a tournament).

    I’m not saying I think the typical GD approach should still be followed, but I think there are good arguments for it as being more representative of a team’s overall performance and where they should end up in the ladder than HtH.

  8. Definitely.
    Head to head is obviously a better way to determine witch team is the better one, since, well, that team beat the other one.
    1) Points
    2) head to head
    3) GD

    All tournament should follow this format, I think,

  9. So would that mean if Holland were to beat Portugal by multiple goals and Denmark lost to Germany, Denmark would go through because of their Head-to-head with Holland?

  10. Yes, head-to-head should mean more than goal differential. Why it doesn’t a lot of the time, I don’t know, but at least they got it right of the Euro. Goal differential is fairly meaningless. I’m OK with using it as a last-ditch tiebreaker, but not before taking the actual results of games into account.

  11. Pilsner Urquell for everyone! What a great result for the Czechs without Rozicky. They will have to give there best to get past Germany or whichever group B team they will face. Prazdroj!

  12. Also, this game was more hilarious because of those who suggested that Russia was buying off games after Poland drew their first match.

    I will only be unhappy if Greece go on to win.

  13. I for one was absolutely shocked by the way things played out. I hadn’t even entertained the possibility of both Czech and Greece advancing to the exclusion of Poland and Russia until the Greeks started jumping around at the end of the match. I had completely dismissed two teams who carped the heck out of the diem.

  14. But someone else did perceive it that way. So it really doesn’t matter what the meaning but the perception of those words. And mike perceived it offensively

    Plus for me personally. The notion that he jumped down mikes throat for a comment about the refs and HE DIDN’T EVEN WATCH THE GAME. Therefore, IMO, the comment was unprovoked

  15. I’m sorry no offense intended toward any and all persons. My thought was as follows: I see it a lot, complaints about the officiating, and I’ve formed the opinion that compared to baseball and American football, in soccer the officials are gods, dispensing punishment for the players’s “sins”. It’s a frustrating sport. I didn’t watch the game. Just want the redux in the comments. Sorry again, Mike.

  16. What the hell is this reply?

    Can we get this removed because it’s extremely offensive. I’m not even religious but this is bad.

    I’m Spanish, by the way. You know, the country of Spain. And if I’m saying that Greece was screwed, that makes me a Catholic Russian?

    You need to never reply to anything I say. Ever again.

  17. Um, you lost. So it is. Why does so much always depend on the refs in this sport? Catholic much… always irritating.

  18. That yellow for diving and lack of a penalty is arguably worse than the bogus red card given to their center back knowing that it suspends their star attacking player from a knockout match.

    Something was very fishy regarding the Greece games. Very fishy.


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