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.

”This was a big goal for me, and it’s great for the team,”

Pilar said. ”I went in very hard in to meet Gebre Selassie’s cross

and got to the ball with my knee.”

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.

The result put the Czech Republic’s bid to qualify for the

quarterfinals back on track after an opening 4-1 loss to Russia in

Group A. It was a setback for Greek hopes, however, after a 1-1

draw with co-host Poland.

The Greeks, who played without two key central defenders, nearly

scored another in the 41st, but the header from Giorgos Fotakis was

ruled out for offside.

”We conceded a silly goal and that gave the Greeks hope but we

fought well and kept the victory,” Czech Republic coach Michal

Bilek said. ”The Greeks really tried to score at the end, but our

defense held very well.”

Greece recovered well after its 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.”

Despite the defensive problems, Santos stuck with his attacking

lineup of three forwards. The strategy helped the Greeks dominate

the second half.

Before Euro 2012, Greece’s defense had been an important feature

in its campaign to qualify, 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.”

Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky came off with a foot injury

in the second half.

The Czech fans booed coach Bilek at the start of the match, but

the team soon rebounded from its defeat. 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.