Super-sub Salpigidis rallies 10-man Greece
As a substitute, little more could be asked of Dimitris Salpigidis.
He scored five minutes after coming on, he won his team a penalty, and he added a goal that was disallowed - putting in an effort that rallied 10-man Greece to a 1-1 draw with co-host Poland on Friday in the opening match of the European Championship.
With a flash of his trademark speed, Salpigidis canceled Poland's advantage with a confident strike in the 51st minute, finishing off a cross from Vassilis Torosidis that fellow forward Fanis Gekas failed to handle.
''We managed to turn the game around after we had our backs to the wall,'' Salpigidis said smiling, refusing to take any personal credit for the night's result.
''What I can say is that all the players fought for the full 90 minutes whether we had control of the game or not,'' the 30-year-old forward said. ''I feel honored to still be able to represent my country and wear the national team shirt.''
The PAOK Thessaloniki forward came on in the second half at a low point for Greece, which was a goal down and had lost its two center backs, one through injury and the other because of a red card.
Introducing Salpigidis was a bold move.
Greece coach Fernando Santos kept his three-striker formation despite a first half that saw his forwards kept stranded by Poland.
Besides the goal, Salpigidis won a penalty when Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny fouled him in the area. Szczesny was given a red card, but Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis missed the penalty.
''We put our soul in this game and we could have left with a victory,'' Salpigidis said. ''Sometime when you lose a man it makes you more stubborn. What I want to see is that we never give up. That's what we did tonight and we got the point.''
Once a prolific scorer, Salpigidis only scored five league goals for PAOK last season. But he tends to step up at the right moment.
He scored a vital equalizer against Nigeria at the 2010 World Cup, a match that Greece went on to win.
''I can't say which of those goals - then or tonight - is more important to me,'' Salpigidis said. ''They both feel great.''