Day 1: Group A
Greece 1-1 Poland
Having waited with the masses for the commencement of the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine, one could not hope for a more entertaining match. In front of a ruckus home crowd, the hosts Poland went one up on the Greeks through a thumping headed goal from star striker Robert Lewandowski. The Greeks always solid in defense looked sloppy and in the first half when the rare attacking opportunity presented itself the move petered out faster than you could say "Opa." Second half super-sub Dimitris Salpingidis salvaged the deficit which before the break was compounded by the 44th minute red card to central defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos. After leveling, and playing with 10 men the Greeks held it together as the Polish found it hard to challenge the 38 year old deputant in the Greek keeper. This was fortune was well deserved for the second yellow to Papastathopoulos was as harsh as they come. Salpingidis continued his tricky ways as he latched onto a floated ball over the defense, pushing it past the Arsenal goalkeeper Szczesny who brought him down, awarding a penalty and earning a strait red.
Couldn't write this stuff, could you? And hold on it gets better. The Polish substitute keeper Przemyslaw Tyton's first task was to face a penalty kick, that if converted would put his nation behind. Old timer Karagounis with the chance to put his name up in lights flubbed his effort which was handily saved by the substitute keeper, who in turn became the man of the moment, showing his satisfaction with celebratory clenched fists. ESPN commentator Alexi Lalas brought out the old cliche of "A game of two halves," and apart from its mediocrity as a analytical breakdown, he was right. Having their backs up against it in the first half, the Greeks took it to the Pol's in the second, and should feel aggrieved that they didn't snag the 3 points.
Russia 4-1 Czech Republic
Really not much to say about this one except for: my how far have the Czech's fallen from grace. Ranked second in the world going into the 2006 Cup in Germany, my word six years has done a number on the squad. They looked terrible, but before I praise Russia too much I'm not sure if it's a case of Russia as a force to be reckoned with or, the Czechs' being a force to be wrecked. No matter, the Russians where rampant looking like the team of the last Euro's. Starlet Alan Dzagoev notched two in their route to victory. For my money they'll be top dogs in Group A.