Greece tops Russia 1-0, makes quarters at Euro
Shades of 2004.
Greece surged into the European Championship quarterfinals,
defeating Russia 1-0 Saturday on a goal by Giorgos Karagounis just
Karagounis, making his team record-tying 120th international
appearance, sent a low shot under goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev
with the final touch of the first half.
The Greeks, the 2004 European champions, then did what they do
”The moments are pure magic for all of us. This is a great
night for all Greeks,” Karagounis said. ”I cannot describe how I
feel. It’s so great.”
Greece was a long shot at Euros eight years ago and after
sneaking into the knockout rounds, it stormed to the title. Could
it happen again?
”What inspires us is Greece’s history. That inspires me a
lot,” said Greece coach Fernando Santos, who is Portuguese. ”The
Greeks have great pride and they have earned respect from everyone.
History democracy, science, values – it all started in
For the Russians, it was a shocking early dismissal after they
made the semifinals four years ago. Russia was the overwhelming
choice going into the match at the National Stadium, but it was
again guilty of squandering chances. The Russians finished the
match with 25 shots on goal, while Greece managed only five.
”We should have won by a wide margin tonight, but we didn’t. My
compliments to Greece,” Russia coach Dick Advocaat said. ”A
number of players weren’t sharp enough to score.”
The Russians became one of the tournament favorites with their
4-1 win over the Czech Republic in their opening match, then drew
with Poland and finally lost to Greece, snapping a 16-match
Even as the Greeks closed down in front of their net late in the
match, Karagounis looked to have won a penalty kick when Sergei
Ignashevich appeared to bring him down in the area. But Swedish
referee Jonas Eriksson instead booked the Greece captain for a
dive, meaning he will miss the quarterfinals.
”We are proud that we gave the people back home some joy and a
break from their problems – even for a short while,” Greece
striker Georgios Samaras said. ”We did very well defensively, but
the will we had was the main thing. That stopped them from scoring
Russian players dejectedly tramped off the field immediately
after the final whistle, while Greece’s euphoric players hugged one
another and then celebrated with their fans.
”What I’m feeling is overwhelming. I think we did deserve more,
but it didn’t happen,” Malafeev said. ”To concede that goal just
before halftime was an awful feeling.”
Giorgos Tzavelas nearly gave Greece a two-goal cushion when he
curled a free kick over the Russian wall in the 70th minute, but
saw the ball slam against the top of the goalpost.
Michalis Sifakis then ensured his team would advance when he
saved a close-range shot by substitute Pavel Pogrebnyak in
second-half injury time.
Russia came close several times in the first half. But even as
the team laid siege to the Greek goal it was largely restricted to
long-range efforts after the break as it went after the
Russia forward Alan Dzagoyev came close in the 84th minute with
a glancing header off a cross from Andrei Arshavin, but the ball
drifted just wide.
Greece, knowing it needed a win to progress after a draw and a
loss, started the match with a defensive setup aimed at stifling
Russia’s passing game in the midfield. Russia only needed a draw to
reach the quarterfinals.
As the minutes ticked off, Greek fans sang the national anthem
and the Russians lit off flares before walking out of the