Euro 2012: What We Learned from Greece's Opening Game

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Euro 2012: What We Learned from Greece's Opening Game
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

What an opener.  In a group where anyone can advance to the knockout stage Greece and Poland showed that anything can happen.

This game was a tale of two halves, the first dominated by the Poles, the second dominated by the Greeks. 

With the home crowd urging them on, the Poles got things going quickly and almost scored in the second minute but Kostas Chalkias tipped the ball over the bar.  The attack would come from the right hand side where the Polish team had a clear advantage. 

After missing a great chance in the 12th minute, Robert Lewandowski headed in the championship's first goal, giving the Polish side an early 1-0 lead.  The Poles almost doubled the lead but Damien Perquis shot wide at an empty Greek goal. That would be the last quality chance Poland would have as Greece's defense would shut the door and control the second half.

The Greeks began finding their legs late in the first half and thought they had earned a penalty when Perquis handled the ball, but they were not giving a penalty.  The Greeks would become more frustrated with referee Carlos Carballo when he gave a second yellow to Sokratis Papastathopoulos.  Both cards were harsh as they were both hard fouls. 

After surviving the first half only down 1-0, the Greeks turned to Dimitris Salpigidis.  He provided an instant spark, and in the 51st minute tied the game after Wojeich Szczensy couldn't control the cross and Salpagidis quickly jumped to slam it in. Leveling the score a man down seemed to take the wind out of the Poles.

Substitute Kostas Fortounis found a wide open Salpigidis behind the Polish defense only to be taken down by Szczesny earning a penalty shot.  Szczensy would be red carded for his take down of Salpigidis. 

Enter substitute goalie Przemyslaw Tyton who came on to face the penalty kick. Georgios Karagounis stepped up to take it and was stopped. That save kept the score level and would be the last chance either squad came close to finding a winner. 

What a game. All the ups and downs provided the fans a great thrill. Moving forward each team was left with a lot to think about.  Here are a few things I came away with after the game yesterday.

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