Czech Republic beats Greece 2-1 at Euro 2012

Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar scored in the first six minutes to

give the Czech Republic a 2-1 win over Greece on Tuesday at the

European Championship.

Jiracek shot the ball past Greece goalkeeper Costas Chalkias in

the third minute after a pass from Tomas Hubschmann sliced through

the Greek defense. Three minutes later, Pilar scored his second

goal of the tournament, beating Greek defenders to a ball sent

across the goal by Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre

Selassie.

Substitute Fanis Gekas pulled one back for Greece in 53rd minute

with a tap in after Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech spilled the ball

and bumped into defender Tomas Sivok.

”It was my mistake. Who else is there to blame?” the Chelsea

goalkeeper said. ”I’d been playing well till then, and I was

determined I wouldn’t let any in.”

The Greeks, who played the Group A match without two key central

defenders, nearly scored another in the 41st, but the header from

Giorgos Fotakis was called back for offside.

The Greeks recovered well after their disastrous start, but lost

another player when Chalkias limped off the field in the 23rd

minute. He was replaced by Michalis Sifakis.

”This was another game with a very bad start for us,” said

Greece coach Fernando Santos, whose side had trailed after 17

minutes of the draw with Poland. ”We were chasing the game for the

whole match after going two down so quickly.”

Greece’s defense had been an important feature of its campaign

to reach Euro 2012, conceding just five goals in 10 games.

”We conceded so few goals in qualifying, and this happens to

us,” Santos said. ”We did find our balance but could not get a

second goal.”

Despite the defensive problems, Santos stuck with his attacking

lineup of three forwards. The strategy helped the Greeks dominate

the second half.

Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky came off with an injured

Achilles’ tendon in the second half, and team officials said it was

too early to say whether it would rule him out for the Czech’s last

group game against Poland.

The Czech fans booed coach Michal Bilek at the start of the

match, but the team rebounded from its opening 4-1 loss to Russia

in Group A. The Czechs also avenged their semifinal loss to Greece

at Euro 2004.

Czech Republic: Petr Cech, Theodor Gebre Selassie, Tomas Sivok,

Michal Kadlec, David Limbersky, Tomas Hubschman, Jaroslav Plasil,

Petr Jiracek, Tomas Rosicky (Daniel Kolar, 46, Frantisek Rajtoral,

89), Vaclav Pilar, Milan Baros (Tomas Pekhart, 64).

Greece: Costas Chalkias (Michalis Sifakis, 23), Yiannis

Maniatis, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Vassilis Torosidis, Jose Holebas,

Giorgos Karagounis, Giorgos Fotakis (Fanis Gekas, 46), Costas

Katsouranis, Costas Fortounis (Costas Mitroglou, 71st), Georgios

Samaras, Dimitris Salpingidis.