Despite an industrious performance against the Czech Republic in Russia's opening UEFA EURO 2012 game, Aleksandr Kerzhakov did not have the happiest of evenings.
The FC Zenit St Petersburg forward became the first player in the history of the UEFA European Championship to have seven shots off target in a finals game, but while he came in for a little criticism from the Russian press, the 29-year-old took a philosophical view about his performance. "The most important thing is the team won," he said. "I didn't manage to score but these things happen in football. If we keep on winning, I don't care how many goals I score, or if I even score at all."
The 4-1 win against the Czech Republic is now in the past and attention has turned to Russia's upcoming encounter with co-hosts Poland, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Greece in their opening fixture. "It will be a tough encounter because Poland will be at home," said Kerzhakov. "They drew their opening match against Greece and I am sure they were after a better result, so in order to qualify for the knockout stages, they need to win and will be doing everything to do that."
Russia, meanwhile, have their own agenda, with Kerzhakov well aware that they can "seal a place in the knockout stages" with victory in Warsaw. However, there is no chance of any complacency creeping into the Russia camp. "Not once have I seen the players thinking this will be an easy game, as there are no easy games," said coach Dick Advocaat. "Against Poland it will be a different game, a different opponent, and I think it will be a tougher match than the first one."
As usual, the Dutchman was tight-lipped about his starting lineup, and there were no hints as to his plans on the training pitch. Kerzhakov can only hope that, for all of those misses, he remains a hit with his coach.
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