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Karagounis fires Greece into last eight

Published: Saturday 16 June 2012, 22.47CET
Greece 1-0 Russia
Giorgos Karagounis's goal in first-half added time put Fernando Santos's side in the quarter-finals at their opponents' expense.
by Simon Hart
from National Stadium Warsaw

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Published: Saturday 16 June 2012, 22.47CET

Karagounis fires Greece into last eight

Greece 1-0 Russia
Giorgos Karagounis's goal in first-half added time put Fernando Santos's side in the quarter-finals at their opponents' expense.

Eight years after lifting the Henri Delaunay Cup with victory over Portugal in Lisbon, Greece finally won another game on the UEFA European Championship stage, resurrecting that famous 1-0 scoreline to take their place in the last eight of UEFA EURO 2012 at Russia's expense.

Russia had started the night in Warsaw as Group A leaders but were undone by a goal on the stroke of half-time by one of Greece's survivors of 2004, captain Giorgos Karagounis. It was the 35-year-old who took advantage of a Russian defensive lapse by bursting through to beat Vyacheslav Malafeev with a low drive. It was some way to mark his record-equalling 120th international appearance, and a blow from which Russia failed to recover.

The result of it all was that Greece leapt from the foot of the standings to claim second place and the prize of a quarter-final in Gdansk against the Group B winners. For Russia, by contrast, a campaign that began with an impressive 4-1 win over the Czech Republic ended in sheer frustration.

Greece entered the game under orders to avoid a repeat of their slow starts against Poland and the Czech Republic. There was early encouragement when Karagounis's early corner was met at the near post by Kostas Katsouranis but his shot lacked the height to trouble Malafeev.

It was not long before the game settled into a pattern of Russia dominating possession and Greece sitting back, getting men behind the ball and frustrating them. Ten minutes in, Andrey Arshavin got his foot to an inswinging Alan Dzagoev cross but without sufficient power to bother Michalis Sifakis, deputising for the injured Kostas Chalkias in Greece's goal.

Minutes later, Aleksandr Kerzakhov unleashed a volley from the edge of the box but, typical of his luck in this campaign, the ball flew just wide. Russia had control of the middle of the park though it was from a rare opening down the flank that Yuri Zhirkov sped away from Sokratis Papastathopoulos but his exciting run concluded with a white, not red shirt, on the end of his cross. Kyriakos Papadopoulos did well to cut out another cross, this time by Arshavin, then Kerzhakov missed his kick when teed up by Dzagoev's header before Zhirkov flashed a shot just over.

After all that, an innocuous-looking situation in first-half added time brought the opening goal at the other end from Karagounis. When a Greece throw-in came down the line, Sergei Ignashevich misdirected his header infield and Karagounis scampered clear, cutting into the box in front of Zhirkov and beating Malafeev with the power of his shot. 

Dick Advocaat responded by introducing Roman Pavlyuchenko for Kerzhakov but Russian advances continued to crash against the white wall of Greece's defence. Indeed, the Greeks so nearly extended their advantage shortly before the hour as Vassilis Torossidis, surging into the box, put a ball across goal, but Aleksandar Anyukov got there just ahead of Fanis Gekas.

Greece came close again as Giorgos Tzavellas curled a free-kick over the Russia wall and on to the angle of post and crossbar. By the end Advocaat had sent on Marat Izmailov for defender Anyukov and one more opportunity came Russia's way, Dzagoev nodding Arshavin's cross past Sifakis but beyond the far post. It was the story of their night. Although Karagounis's booking rules him out of the quarter-final, for Greece, by contrast, this felt like the reprisal of their greatest tale.

Last updated: 26/10/12 14.13CET

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