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  Results & Reviews: Match 17

  

Russian to goal
Greece gives up strike in second minute, advances despite 2-1 loss

Greece was upset by Russia 2-1 in their last Group A match Sunday, but the Euro 2004 surprise team advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time thanks to Portugal's win over Spain in the other group game.

Greece and Spain finished level on four points and tied 1-1 in their head-to-head game. But Greece advanced because it scored more goals. Greece scored four and conceded four, while Spain's overall score was 2-2. Portugal won the group with six points.

"I think we fulfilled all the promises we made at the start of the competition," said Greek captain Theodoros Zagorakis. "After our win over Portugal in the first match, I said all of Europe would be talking about Greece. Now, I think the whole world will be talking about us. We made the worst start today. I really don't know what happened. But what counts is that we qualified."

Greece's German coach Otto Rehhagel said his team was now looking forward to the quarterfinals.
 
Summary

Group A 20 June 2004 1945 CET

Algarve, Faro Attendance 30,000

2:1

Kirichenko 2
Bulykin 17

Vryzas 43
Russia (4-4-2) Malafeyev; Yevseyev, Sharonov (Sennikov 56), Bugayev, Anyukov; Karyaka (Semshov 46), Radimov, Alenichev, Gusev; Bulykin (Sychev), Kirichenko.
Greece (4-5-1) Nikopolidis; Seitaridis, Kapsis, Dellas, Venetidis (Fyssas 89); Haristeas, Katsouranis, Zagorakis, Basinas (Tsartas 41), Papadopoulos (Nikolaidis 69); Vryzas.
Referee Gilles Veissiere (FRA)


"We have already won everything. Every opponent from now on is a comfortable one," he said.

Striker Dmitry Kirichenko split the Greek defense with a good run in the second minute to score the fastest goal in European Championship history and give Russia a 1-0 lead.

Dmitri Bulykin made it 2-0 in the 17th minute, after he was left unmarked to head in a corner kick from the near side. Zisis Vryzas narrowed the lead in the 43rd minute, tucking in a vital goal for Greece from close range.

"People might say we didn't need this victory," said Russia coach Georgy Yartsev. "I think we very much needed it. The Russian soccer needed it. Look at how many rookies we had."

The Russians were unfettered by any pressure and their play was for the most part fluid and attractive, coming mostly from counter-attacks.

Vryzas had an early chance for Greece on the turn in the box, his shot was too tame and off target.

Kirichenko, who was having a great start, almost won a penalty in the 10th minute, after he tried to slip in front of Georgios Seitaridis, but referee Gilles Veisseire waved play on.

Angelos Basinas was denied by some good goalkeeping from Viacheslav Malafeev, who dived to parry the midfielder's low shot around the wall.

Andrey Karyaka could have scored for Russia soon after but he blasted over the top of goal alone before the 'keeper.

Less than a minute later, Angelos Charisteas did the same on the other end.

Vassilis Tsiartas had the first chance after the interval with a toothless shot from outside the box that was easily picked up by Malafeev.

Then Kirichenko had two chances, one of them with a spectacular overhead kick that went wide.

Substitute Dmitri Sychev also had two chances in succession, a long range shot smothered by goalie Antonis Nikopolidis and a header from the ensuing corner kick that went wide.

Zagorakis blasted a half-chance right after over the bar from a distance on the other end.

Kirichenko, who was running rings in the Greek defense, was on hand again for Russia with 15 minutes to go, whipping a powerful shot from a distance into the safe hands of Nikopolidis.

The last 15 minutes saw a desperate Greek outfit trying to beat stubborn Russian defenders.

Tsiartas, a free-kick specialist, showed his skills with a curling shot from about 30 meters out, forcing Malafeev to claw the threat with a dive to the right for a corner kick.

Kirichenko was close again in three minutes from time after Vladislav Radimov went on a swift run down the far flank, but his lunging attempt to connect on the perfect low cross was easily cleared out of danger. 

Greek coach says his upstart team has nothing to lose

FARO, Portugal (AP) -- Otto Rehhagel created history on Sunday by taking Greece to its first quarterfinal of a major tournament. From now on, the German coach said, the Greeks could be the most dangerous team in the last eight of Euro 2004 because they have nothing to lose.

Greece lost its last Group B match with Russia 2-1 on Sunday, but squeezed into the final eight of the tournament thanks to a higher goal tally than rivals Spain. Portugal advanced as the group winner.

"Today there will only be joy, no criticism," Rehhagel said at a press conference after the match. "We have already won everything. Now for us every opponent is a good opponent. We have nothing more to lose. There is no pressure. We will enjoy the success and look forward to the quarterfinals."

Greece made headlines at the opening game of the championship, upsetting host nation Portugal 2-1. The sensational start was followed up with a come-from-behind 1-1 draw against favorites Spain.

While Portugal finished with six points, Greece and Spain finished level on four and, because they tied 1-1 in their head-to-head game, qualification rested on their Group A goals. The goal differential was the same but Greece advanced because it scored more -- four compared with Spain's two.

Greece could theoretically face any of the four teams in Group B, although defending champions France, who lead with four points, and powerhouse England (three), have a strong edge over outsiders Croatia (two points), and Switzerland (one). France faces Switzerland on Monday and England takes on Croatia.

Rehhagel, who had warned that the Russians would be exceptionally dangerous after two losses, said he kept an ear on the result in Lisbon, which affected Greece's chances for a quarterfinals berth.

"During the whole match I was aware what was happening in the other match. It was difficult because we were already losing two goals early," the 65-year-old said.

Striker Dmitry Kirichenko scored the fastest goal in European Championship history to give Russia a 1-0 lead after 65 seconds. Dmitri Bulykin made it 2-0 15 minutes later after he was left unmarked to head in a corner kick.

Zisis Vryzas narrowed the lead in the 43rd minute, tucking in the vital goal for Greece from close range and it was that strike that clinched the last eight spot.

Already eliminated coming into the match, Yartsev said he had no interest in the Iberian derby being played simultaneously. Had Russia defeated Greece by a bigger margin, Spain would have gone through instead of the Greeks.

"I was following the play of my team and I didn't care about the results in the other match," Yartsev said.

"People might say we didn't need this victory. I think we very much needed it. The Russian soccer needed it. Look at how many rookies we had."
- AP

 

 

  Group Standings

Group A

P W D L F A Pt
Portugal 3 2 0 1 4 2 6
Greece 3 1 1 1 4 4 4
Spain 3 1 1 1 2 2 4
Russia 3 1 0 2 2 4 3

 

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  Match Stats

RUS vs GRE
2 Goals 1
2 Halftime 0
5 Corners 8
2 Offsides 5
18 Fouls 16
6 Yellow cards 2
0 Red cards 0
19 Free kicks 20
8 Shots on target 5
9 Shots off target 5
1 Woodwork 0
4 Saves 5
0 GL Clearances 0
53% Possession 47%

 

 

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