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Poland’s ideal script torn up as Szczesny loses the plot

 Ryan Hubbard
 Poland Expert
 Mike Paterakis
 Greece Expert


After all of the off-the-field issues surrounding the build up to Euro 2012, both Poland and Greece opened the competition in a welcome thrilling encounter at Warsaw's stunning Stadion Narodowy.

With Franciszek Smuda's right-side providing the basis of the majority of Poland's attacks during the opening period, it was only a matter of time before the Biale-Orly opened the scoring – and after just 17 minutes, Lukasz Piszczek, Jakub Błasycyzkowski and Robert Lewandowski showed why they should be feared.

Smart passing around the box led to Lewandowski sending the home fans into raptures following near-telepathic link-up with his Dortmund team-mates.

With Poland continuing to pile on the pressure, they were given an opportunity to take a further grip on the game with an extremely harsh sending off of Greece's Sokratis Papastathopoulos for two yellow cards. But instead of grasping the opportunity with both hands, the Poles came out for the second half a completely different side.

MATCH FACTS | Poland 1-1 Greece

 On Target
 Red cards
With Fernando Santos changing his tactics to focus on Poland's weaker left side, Smuda failed to react – and they were punished. Focusing on attacking left-back Sebastian Boenisch, Greece slowly began to dominate; and with Wojciech Szczesny coming for a cross that he had no business going for, the visitors were back in it.

Considering he didn't have that much to do, the Arsenal keeper's performance soon went from bad to appalling not long after, as he was slow to react to a looped ball over the top. With Dimitris Salpingidis encroaching, Szczesny lost his head, stuck out his foot and was deservedly dismissed.

The Arsenal goalkeeper is the man with the top-level experience and the player the hosts were relying on to take them through the high-pressure opening matches - but he let them down badly and will now be watching from the sidelines in their crucial clash against Russia.

Whilst substitute keeper Przemysław Tyton spared the hosts' blushes with a fantastic penalty save, Poland will look back at this as two points dropped as Greece tore up their script. With Russia up next, Smuda's men will have to up their game to have any chance of surviving the group stage.

Greece proved why they are considered one of the toughest teams in the tournament. Despite Poland's early lead and the fact they were left with 10 players on 44 minutes, they managed to spoil the hosts' party through a fantastic show of mental strength.

Fernando Santos' risky decision to deploy a more offensive formation in the second half, introducing into the game Salpingidis, paid dividends as the PAOK striker scored the equaliser and won a penalty, with which Greece could have won the game had captain Giorgos Karagounis beaten substitute goalkeeper Tyton.

Karagounis is considered the poster boy of this team, earning his first cap back in 1998. However at 35-years-old, he has relinquished his role of leader to Vasilis Torosidis. The Olympiakos right-back conquered the entire wing and forced Szczesny into the mistake that led to Salpi's goal.

Santos took two more risks with the insertion of inexperienced 19-year-old attacking midfielder Kostas Fortounis, and the use of Kostas Katsouranis as central defender next to the hottest prospect of Greek football, Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos.

The changes the Portuguese made to his team were almost perfect, and his players displayed the same kind of determination as they did eight years ago when they beat hosts Portugal against the odds on the opening day of Euro 2004.

Only this time they had to overcome some very bad refereeing calls, as well as the fear they had shown at the start of the game.

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