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The Czech Republic, who were humbled in their opening game against Russia, took on Greece at the Municipal Stadium in Wroclaw, Poland in search of their opening win in the tournament.
It did not take long before the Czech fans were celebrating as they took the lead in just the third minute of the game. Veteran player Tomas Hubschman unlocked the Greek defense with a pinpoint pass for Petr Jiracek, and Czech midfielder had little difficulty beating Kostas Chalkias with his left foot.
No sooner than the Czech fans’ cheers had died down, they were once more on their feet celebrating their second goal of the game. A drilled cross from Gebre Selassie was dealt with poorly by Greek goalkeeper Chalkias, who only managed to palm the ball into the path of the arriving Vaclav Pilar and the ball was bundled into the back of the net off of the knee of Pilar.
Chalkias’ nightmare start to the game came to an early end as he walked off with an injury to be replaced by Michalis Sifakis, who was almost immediately called upon to make a good diving save to prevent Tomas Rosicky from extending the Czechs’ lead.
Despite being down 2-0, and in desperate need of at least one goal before half time, the Greece team looked lethargic for the rest of the half, failing to trouble the Czech defense with any meaningful attacks. The closest Greece came to pulling a goal back was through Giorgos Fotakis, who headed the ball in at the far post from a cross, only for the linesman to raise his flag for offside and ensure the score remained unchanged at the interval.
Instead of pressing hard to get back into the game in the second half, Greece was lucky to not be further behind when Selassie’s shot found its way to the feet of Milas Baros but the striker couldn’t connect properly with the ball and wasted a golden opportunity.
A lifeline was gifted the Greeks, however, when a cross was spilled by Czech goalkeeper, Petr Cech, following a mix up with Tomas Sivok, leaving Fanis Gekas with the easiest of finishes to give Greece their first goal.
The goal seemed to spur on Greece who was now in control of the game, but a combination of bad finishing and a lack of a final pass saw the Greeks spurn a host of chances as the game moved into the final 15 minutes.
Despite doing much better in the second half, Greece was unable to find a much needed equalizer, leaving them in the precarious position of needing to beat the strong Russia side in their last group game if they are to have any chance of qualifying for the knockout stages. The Czechs on the other hand are in a much better position going into their last game against Poland and, providing they can replicate their form from the first half of this game, will fancy their chances of qualifying from the group.