Euro 2012: Poland hold Russia to stay in Euro hunt
Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland kept their chances of a quarter-finals berth alive on Tuesday after drawing 1-1 with Russia, putting on ice their opponents' hopes of clinching the first slot in the knock-out phase.
Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland kept their chances of a quarter-finals berth alive on Tuesday after drawing 1-1 with Russia, putting on ice their opponents' hopes of clinching the first slot in the knock-out phase. (All AFP and AP Images)
The Poles, needing to take at least a point from the Group A match in the wake of their 1-1 tournament opener against Greece, looked the hungrier team in the first half.
Sporting encounters between Poland and Russia are often high pressure, as they feed into centuries of antipathy between the two nations, and the rivalry in the stadium's terraces was palpable from the start of the match.
Hard work appeared to have paid off when Eugen Polanski scored against the Greeks but his 18th-minute shot was ruled offside.
A resurgent Russia picked up the pace, with captain Andrey Arshavin crossing in the 25th minute to Aleksandr Kerzhakov, only for him to miss the target.
Russia's efforts bore fruit in the 37th minute when rising star Alan Dzagoev, who notched up a double against the Czechs, latched onto an inswinging Arshavin free kick to open the scoring.
Polish keeper Przeymslaw Tyton, who saved a penalty against Greece, had no answer to the glancing header.
While Poland appeared tired, they battled hard, and finally equalised in the 57th minute when captain Kuba Blaszczykowski picked up a cross from Obraniak and fired home a left-footed piledriver.
In the end, Poland played well enough to create more chances than their more formidable opponents.
Coach Dick Advocaat should till be a happy man as his team Russia top Group A on four points after two rounds of action with the Czechs second on three points, Poland third on two and Greece fourth on one.
Tensions had risen in Warsaw beforehand, as police made dozens of arrests and used water canons to halt brawls between fans from both camps.