If the first day of the Euro 2012 was indication of what lies ahead for the Group A nations, then you can pretty much pencil in Russia on top of that table. Led by Alan Dzagoyev’s two goals and Andrei Arshavin’s all-around brilliance, the Russians completely overwhelmed the Czech Republic, 4-1, serving notice that they very well could be the team to beat in Group A.
Dzagoyev and Arshavin were only two of the many stars of the Russian team in the match. Roman Shirokov and Roman Pavlyuchenko also scored for the Russians who sent wave after wave of crisp passing, and fancy touches to completely take the Czechs out of their game. Even the Czech Republic’s Champions League-winning goalkeeper, Peter Cech, couldn’t withstand the onslaught from the in-form Russians who have now cast their lot as one of the dark horses of the tournament.
Meanwhile, the two other teams in the table, Poland and Greece, had their own memorable match. A goal from both teams closed the match to a draw, but most people will probably remember all the extra-curricular activities that went on during the game, particularly the pair of red cards given to both sides, as well as a missed penalty kick, and enough dives to make even the most purist of floppers stand up and applaud. Poland striker Robert Lewandowski drew first blood against the Greeks after a brilliant header from a cross courtesy of Borrusia Dortmund teammate Jakub Blaszczykowski sent the host team up 1-0. In the 51st minute, the Greeks managed to tie the score at 1-1 despite a one-man disadvantage that came from an earlier red card to Sokratis Papastathopoulos. Substitute Dimitris Salpigidis equalized for the short-handed Greeks, knocking in a loose ball past Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.
The night would only get worse for the Arsenal goalkeeper when he received his own red card after a misread play ended up with him tackling Salpigdis, earning Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis a chance to put his team ahead. Alas, replacement goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton guessed correctly and made a diving save to preserve a point for the co-host team.