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Team of the Week
12 June 2012
• Stadion Miejski, Wrocław
Referee: S. Lannoy
• Attendance: 41105
T. Gekas 53'
P. Jiráček 3'
V. Pilař 6'
And that's full time! Cech's second-half howler proves to be of little consequence. The Czech Republic are still in with a shout of qualifying for the next round, but will be hoping that Russia can take a couple of points off Poland later. Stay tuned to Goal.com for all the action from that game, and the rest of the tournament.
90' + 3'
Mitroglou gives away a free kick in the Czech penalty area, and Cech takes the opportunity to eat up a few more seconds.
90' + 2'
A lovely bit of defending from Sivok prevents a Maniatis long ball from reaching Mitroglou. Win-saving tackle there!
90' + 1'
We're due to have at least three minutes of injury time here.
Kolar has been withdrawn in favour Rajtoral, and makes sure his journey back to the bench takes as long as possible.
Cech beats Gekas in a foot race to yet another high, aimless ball, and claims it.
Pilar tries to run down the clock by the corner flag, but only manages to concede a free kick. The Greek defence hack the ball clear, but surrender possession straight back to their opponents.
The Czechs look good value to see this one out. Greece are showing none of the intensity they had 15 minutes ago, and are met by a swarm of red shirts whenever they are in possession. of the ball. When they do find some space, they look to be completely lacking in incisiveness, and devoid of ideas.
Karagounis himself steps up to take the resulting free kick, but his delivery is poor yet again, and the Czechs get it away, with Pilar showing some beautiful touches.
Jiracek, who is already on a yellow card, foolishly tugs back Karagounis, and gifts Greece a free kick in a threatening area.
That could have been the game. Pilar bounds down the left, but with Pekhart well-stationed in the middle of the box, he takes a heavy, heavy touch, and it rolls out for a goal kick. Horrible bit of control there - he really could have done far better.
Torosidis tries a cross, but Cech is there to claims the ball confidently. He doesn't seem to be affected by his howler earlier.
So, there's just over 10 minutes to go until full time. It looks like it's going to be a nervy ending for the Czechs - the Greeks are really bombarding the goal. However, the majority of you who are joining in the debate in the chat box of the match centre believe that Greece were lucky to make it this far, and are backing Bilek's men to hold on for a vital victory.
At the other end, Plasil sends a free kick towards the burly frame of Pekhart, but Papadopoulos heads it away. It falls invitingly to Pilar on the edge of the box, but his ambitious effort goes high and wide. That was never in danger of finding the target.
The Greek bombardment of the box is continuing. This time Maniatis is the provider, swinging in a threatening ball to Mitroglou at the far post, but in his eagerness to win the header, the Atromitos forward fouls his marker.
Heart-stopping moment for Michal Bilek and co. A long-range effort from Karagounis deflects kindly to the completely-unmarked Gekas, who is rather controversially ruled offside there. It was a bad decision from the officials...
And yet another lovely ball in, this time towards Gekas, is well-defended by the Czechs. Gekas barely jumped - he could have grabbed an equaliser there.
Karagounis works the ball into the box, and although his cross looks threatening, it's headed away. Greece's crossing has dramatically improved since the break - it was poor and aimless in the first 45 minutes.
Much better from Greece. Torosidis puts in a lovely ball from the right, and the Czech defence is forced to concede a corner.
Maniatis takes aim from about 30 yards, but it's poorly-hit and drifts high and wide. Greece will have to do better than that to get an equaliser...
Pilar does brilliantly down the left, and manages to hook a cross in. However, it's slightly over-hit, and Greece take possession of the ball once more.
Kolar picks up a booking for a clumsy tackle - Stephane Lannoy hasn't been afraid to flash the cards to far this afternoon...
Yellow Card Daniel Kolar
Pekhart's first action is to head a long ball down to Kolar, who shoots from distance, but his shot drifts well wide. The Czechs look a little more steady now.
Pekhart's first action is to head a long ball down to Kolar, who shoots from distance, but his shot drifts well wide. The Czechs look a little more steady now.
And Tomas Pekhart has now come on to replace Baros, who had a quiet game up front, truth be told.
Samaras breaks from midfield, and strides forward towards the byeline. However, he's unable to get a cross, or anything else for that matter, in, and it slips into touch for a goal kick. What a waste.
Finally we get a bit of the build up play that defined the Czech performance in the first half with Jiracek and Gebre Selassie combining beautifully down the right, but the full-back can only win a throw in.
Karagounis swings in the free kick towards Torosidis' head, but Cech rushes off his line and punches the ball clear - rather more assuredly this time...
Greece have a free kick in a dangerous area after Pilar hacked down the breaking Torosidis.
The Czechs have certainly been a little static since the break. Has the withdraw of Rosicky been detrimental to their play, perhaps? He was certainly influential during the latter stages of the first period.
Yellow Card Dimitris Salpingidis
Yellow Card Kyriakos Papadopoulos
So, Greece have been given a lifeline by that awful, suicidal piece of goalkeeping from Cech. Can they nick an unlike point, or maybe even a victory? Cech was the villain four years ago, when a similar howler gifted Nihat, and Turkey, a goal, and qualification to the quarter-finals...
On second viewing, it looked as though there was a complete lack of communication between Cech and Sivok, but that doesn't excuse his error. He should have got to it comfortably. Game on!
Goal Theofanis Gekas
GOAL!!! What a howler from Cech! Samaras plays an awful, aimless ball into the box, and the Chelsea keeper lets it through his hands, straight into Gekas' path. The Samsunspor forward can barely believe his luck, but taps it home. Awful, awful mistake.
It's been a steady start to the second period from both teams, who look comfortable in possession. Apart from Gebre Selassie's jaunt into the box from the right, there hasn't been a significant threat to goal, though.
Greece swing a cross in from the right, but Cech claims it easily. It was far too close to the Chelsea keeper, and was never in danger of finding a white shirt.
And now a nasty little incident in the middle of the park. Jiracek and Salpingidis come together in the middle of the park, and it appears that the Greek star kneed his opponent in a particularly sensitive area. However, the referee does well to break things up, and play continues.
Early warning sides for the Greeks. Gebre Selassie charges infield from the right and blasts it across the face of goal to Baros, who fails to get the ball under control, and concedes possession.
And we're off! Can Greece grab a draw? Or will the Czechs storm to victory?
A couple of half-time changes. Rosicky has gone off for the Czechs, and has been replaced by Kolar, while Fotakis has been withdrawn in favour of Gekas.
The predictions are still flying in on the chat box of the live page. Most are, understandably, backing Czech Republic for the win. However, they cannot afford to collapse in the second half.
And here's the Greek view on matters, from Michael Paterakis: "Katsouranis is conceding too much space to the Czechs. Instead of trying to push forward and take the ball as far away as possible from the Greek back line, he takes steps back. Rosicky has realised this and is aiming for the heart of the Greek defence."
And here's what Mark Smith, our Czech football expert has to say on the first period: "A very impressive 45 minutes for Michal Bilek's men, that saw former team-mates, Pilar and Jiracek, stun Greece in the opening exchanges. What appeared to have been a defensive line-up has looked anything but, as the Czechs threatened to run away with the game. Luck is shining down on the Czechs, who have seen a Greek goal ruled out for a marginal offside call, and the opposition keeper withdrawn due to injury. Gebre Selassie and Jiracek, like Poland on Friday, have been getting a lot of joy from the Greek left and must continue to exploit this weakness. Still, the Czechs have to be careful in the second period as Jiracek and Rosicky are both on yellow cards. The Greeks will be sure to target the influential duo."
And that's half-time. Greece go into half-time on the back of an awful first 45 minutes once more. They were 2-0 down within six minutes, and have rarely threatened Cech's goal since. The Czechs have looked comfortable in possession, and seem to be cruising to an easy victory. That said, Fernando Santos' men looked to be down and out against Poland, but managed to nick a draw after the break. Can they repeat the trick?
45' + 1'
Much to the distaste of the Greek bench, only one minute of added time is given, despite the knocks to Chalkias and Karagounis.
Katsouranis plays another long ball into the box towards Samaras, but yet again it's headed away by the first man. They've tried to launch it into the box far too many times, and it's easy for the Czechs.
Greece have come back into the match over the last few minutes. They're maintaining possession far better in the middle of the park, but they still look toothless in the final third. Salpingidis attempts a spectacular volley from the edge of the box, but it's charged down.
Greece have it in the back of the net, but it's ruled out for offside. Torosidis puts in a lovely ball to the far post, and Fotakis gleefully heads it home. However, his celebrations are curbed by the linesman's flag. It remains 2-0, and Greece will have to continue searching for a path back into the match.
What a waste. Rosicky thunders down the right wing, and plays it in-field to Jiracek. Rather than passing it back to the unmarked Arsenal playmaker, he slips the ball to Pilar, who surrenders possession when he tries a cute flick, as opposed to a firm pass.
Another promising Greek attack comes to nothing. This time Fortounis launches a lovely ball towards Salpingidis at the far post, but he's flagged for offside.
Yellow Card Petr Jirácek
The yellow cards are flying out now. This time Jiracek, who's had a great game, get his name taken for a clumsy tackle on Maniatis. It was completely unnecessary.
Yellow Card Vasilis Torosidis
Holebas charges down the left, but is closed down by a plethora of Czech players. Bilek's men go on a quick break with some lovely footwork from Jiracek in particular, but the counter attack is stopped by a firm tackle from Torisidis, which earns the Olympiakos man a yellow card.
Limbersky goes on a lovely run into the Greek penalty area, but he's soon closed down, but manages to force a corner. Once again, Rosicky's delivery is poor, and easily cleared.
More lovely passing play from the Czechs, but Rosicky surrenders possession on the right. The Greeks hoof the ball clear, and Cech confidently chests the ball down a few yards outside of his area. And the crowd love it.
Tomas Rosicky breaks clear from midfield and drives a powerful effort goal-wards, but Sifakis manages to turn the ball behind for a corner. It's the first real bit of action the Aris goalkeeper has been called into, and he did well enough.
And here's what Czech football expert Mark Smith makes of his side's performance in the opening half hour. Needless to say, he's confident: "There are more goals in this game for a Czech side who are very much in the ascendancy, their tempo and width have caught the Greeks cold. Two goals to the good and 'Little Mozart' has yet to make an impression, how quickly fortunes can change at major tournaments."
Yellow Card Tomas Rosicky
Czech Republic captain Rosicky picks up a booking for a (very) high foot. He made contact with Karagounis, who writhes around on the floor, but I'm sure he'll be fine.
And here's what Michael Paterakis, Goal.com's Greek football expert makes of Chalkias' injury: "Michalis Sifakis takes Kostas Chalkias' place between the Greek goalposts. The PAOK custodian was not having a good day. For the second goal he conceded he should have parried the ball away after Gebre Selassie's low cross and has given the ball away to Czechs at least twice so far."
And, after that break in play, we're back underway. Karagounis swings another ball up-field, but once again, the Czech Republic clear it easily.
And yes, Chalkias is indeed going off. He's been replaced by Aris keeper Sifakis. He could be in for a busy afternoon if the match continues in this vain.
Injury Kostas Chalkias
Just when you thought things couldn't get any worse to Greece. Chalkias plays an atrocious pass towards Papadopoulos, and concedes a throw-in. However, he seems to be injured, and may well be withdrawn. He really looks to be in some distress.
Lovely play from the Czechs. After some short-range passes, Pilar strikes from distance, but drags his effort wide of Chalkias' goal. Greece are being overrun in midfield.
After Karagounis wasted a couple of free kicks in dangerous positions, Holebas takes over, but his ball into the box fails to clear the first man. The Greeks work the ball back into the box, but Cech gathers it calmly. Very little danger to Czech dominance so far, even if Greece are looking less chaotic than they were 10 minutes ago.
Yet another nervous moment for Greece. Pilar wins a corner down the left wing, and Chalkias initially fumbles Rosicky's set piece, but gathers it at the second attempt. A 4-0 Czech win might not be out of the question...
Papadopoulos plays a long ball forward towards Samaras, but a Czech defender is there to acrobatically prevent the ball from reaching the Celtic forward. It's all too easy so far.
After that rapid start from the Czechs, our readers are now backing a slightly more convincing scoreline than before the game. I've seen one proudly proclaim that they'll run out 4-0 victors...
That was slightly better from the Greece. Torosidis swings a cross in from the right, and although Samaras was in the middle, he was under heavy scrutiny from the Czech defence, and miscued his effort.
First chance for the Greeks to swing in one of their trademark set pieces, but Cech comes out and claims the ball easily.
So this has been the definition of "dream start" for Czech Republic. Greece are all over the place at the back, and have been cut open on several occasions already - and we're only 10 minutes in. This could get embarrassing...
This really is one-way traffic. Rosicky tries to slip another ball through to Baros, but it's played behind the Galatasaray forward, and the Greeks scramble it away.
Assist Theodor Gebre Selassie
Goal Václav Pilař
GOAL!!! What a start by the Czech Republic! Rosicky plays a beautiful ball to Gebre Selassie, who palls the ball across the face of goal, and Pilar is there to tap it into the empty net. Greece need to sort themselves out here...
The positive Czech start continues. This time Pilar is the one to break down the left, but is tackled by Katsouranis.
And the Czechs attack again! Rosicky tries to find Baros, but the ball is over-hit and the Greek back line recover possession.
Assist Tomas Hubschmann
Goal Petr Jirácek
GOAL!!!!!!!! The Czechs get their noses in front. Hubschman plays a beautiful, defence-splitting through ball which finds Jiracek's run perfectly, and the Wolfsburg man slots it past Chalkias, who managed to get a hand to it, but nothing more.
Jiracek makes a dart down the left, but is closed down by the Greek defence, and is forced to concede possession.
And we're off! The Greeks get the game underway.
And the first free kick of the afternoon has been awarded after just 20 seconds - to the Czech Republic.
According to Michal Zachodny, the Polish public is backing a Czech victory today: "As I walked around the city, talking with Polish people, the majority of them were supporting Czechs today. They want them to win, only so they can beat them in the last game between these two on Saturday."
The teams are out, and once we've heard both national anthems, we'll be underway!
So, can either side recover for their sub-par results on matchday one? Neither team can really afford a draw here, so it promises to be an attack-filled thrilling encounter. Early predictions from our readers seem to be in favour of the Czechs, but will Greece take heart from their much-improved second-half performance against Poland? All will be revealed soon enough - there's now less than 10 minutes until kick off...
Our man Michal Zachodny is lucky enough to be in the stadium today and he says that the atmosphere is quite something... "It is very loud inside the ground in Wroclaw and thankfully, the weather is not a worry now. Fans seem genuinely happy because of their line-up and as both teams are warming up, they chant out loudly both starting XI's. One of flags is from... Newcastle, interestingly."
As always, you can send in your thoughts on this match and more to the Goal.com Twitter page (@goal_intl), or join in the debate with fellow reads in the chat box of the match centre. We look forward to hearing from you.
Meanwhile, the Czechs will line up with: Cech; Gebre Selassie, Sivok, Kadlec, Limbersky; Plasil, Hubschman; Jiracek, Rosicky, Pilar; Baros
The teams are in. The Greeks line up with: Chalkias; Torosidis, K. Papadopoulos, Katsouranis, Holebas; Maniatis, Fotakis, Karagounis; Fortounis, Salpingidis, Samaras
However, the Czechs, as part Czechoslovakia, did get a 3-1 group stage victory over Greece at Euro 1980 en route to a third place finish in Italy. A repeat performance will certainly be high on their list of priorities today.
Indeed, during their three previous meetings with Greece, Czech Republic have been unable to score - they'll certainly need to break that unhappy record in Wroclaw if they want to keep their Euro 2012 hopes alive.
Taking a glance back through history, the most significant meeting between these two teams was in the semi-finals of Euro 2004. After a goalless 90 minutes, the Greeks scored an injury time winner to seal progression to the final, which they eventually won, against all odds.
Good afternoon and welcome! The second round of Euro 2012 group matches are upon us, and begin with Czech Republic's clash with Greece in Group A. Both teams are in need of three points to boost their chances of qualification for the later stages of the tournament, so it promises to be a thrilling match.
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