The scoring duo of Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar scored goals in the first six minutes of their match against Greece, putting their opponents squarely behind a hole it couldn’t get out of; Jiracik’s strike came in the third minute and was immediately followed by a beautiful slice from Pilar three minutes later that beat Greek goal keeper Costas Chalkias.
A mistake by Czech keeper Peter Cech in the 53rd minute allowed Greek substitute Fanis Genak to draw his country to within one goal, but their messy start proved to be too much of an obstacle to overcome.
The Czech’s rebounded from a disastrous tournament opener against Russia, surrendering an uncharacteristic four goals in deplorable fashion. This time, they made sure that history didn’t repeat itself, going ahead early and keeping the Greeks at bay the rest of the way.
After two games, the Czech Republic finds itself second in the standings to Russia with three points while Greece is tied with Poland for third with two points apiece.
Speaking of the Russia-Poland match, hostilities began even before the teams entered the pitch as fighting outside the stadium broke out between hooligans from both countries, leaving several people hurt from the fracas. Once the game started, Russia took an early lead after Alan Dzagoev scored his third goal of the tournament with a glancing header that sailed just beyond the outstretched hands of Polish goalie Przemyslaw Tyton in the 37th minute.
Despite surrendering the goal, Poland kept up the pressure with consistent attacks led by striker Robert Lewandowski. The frenzied pace of the Polish squad eventually paid off in the 57th minute when Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski – try spelling that name on your first try – booted a left-foot drive into the far corner of the goal.
With Russia in the driver seat in Group A, the three other teams are still mathematically alive in the tournament, although the road has become a little tougher for both Poland and Greece. Both teams need to win their respective matches in order to advance because draw results against Russia and the Czech Republic won’t be enough to vault the two teams into the Top 2 of the group.
Expect fireworks to ensue when the Group A matches conclude in a few days; certainly, we don’t expect anything less.