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Poland hold Russia after Czechs win

By Stuart Roach, CNN
updated 9:22 AM EDT, Wed June 13, 2012
Polish midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski celebrates after scoring a sensational equaliser against Russia
Polish midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski celebrates after scoring a sensational equaliser against Russia
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Co-hosts Poland share 1-1 draw with Russia in Group A
  • Jakub Blaszczykowski scores stunning equaliser after Alan Dzagoev's opener for Russia
  • Czech Republic seal 2-1 win over Greece in early kick-off
  • Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar score in opening six minutes before Theofanis Gekas replies for Greece

(CNN) -- A sensational strike from Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski kept alive the co-hosts' hopes of reaching the quarter finals of Euro 2012 as they held Russia to a 1-1 draw.

Russia had looked set for a second successive victory that would have sealed their place in the last eight, thanks to Alan Dzagoev's third goal of the tournament.

Dzagoev reacted quickest to glance home Andrei Arshavin's first-half free kick and take his place as the tournament's top goalscorer.

But Blaszczykowski struck a superb left-foot equaliser on 57 minutes to earn Poland a second successive 1-1 draw and ensure that Group A remains wide open.

Earlier, Czech Republic had kept their qualification hopes alive with a deserved 2-1 win over Greece, who can still qualify for the knockout stages if they beat Russia in their final game.

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Czech Republic 2-1 Greece

The Czechs, needing a response following their 4-1 defeat to Russia, got off to a remarkably fast start.

Two goals in the opening six minutes saw them take immediate control of a game they were desperate to win.

First, Petr Jiracek took advantage of an incisive pass from Joroslav Plasil to fire past Greece goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias.

Greece conceded again three minutes later when lively full-back Gebre Selassie cut in from the right and pulled the ball back beyond the grasp of Chalkias for Vaclav Pilar to bundle in.

It was an even worse start than the Greek's first-half horror show against co-hosts Poland and when the beleagured Chalkias shuffled off to be replaced by Michalis Sifakis midway through the first half, it was hard to tell if he was injured or had simply had enough.

Either way, as it had been in their first game against Poland, Greece's first-half luck was completely out. Proof of that was served when Giorgos Fotakis headed in four minutes before half-time, only to see his effort ruled out for the narrowest of offsides.

Their luck slowly began to change after the break, though, and finally turned courtesy of a horrible mistake by Czech Republic's highly experienced goalkeeper Cech.

The Chelsea goalkeeper appeared to have Giorgios Samaras' low cross covered, but the presence of defender Tomas Sivok seemed to distract Cech, who fumbled the ball to allow substitute Theofanis Gekas to roll the loose ball into an empty net.

Having fought back from a goal down and with only 10 men in their first game against Poland, Greece looked set to stage another second-half revival. But their approach play remained predictable and Cech, eager to make amends for his error, was never seriously threatened again.

The victory means Bilak's Czech side now have three points from two Group A games, but leaves Greece knowing that only a win against Russia in their final group game will give them any chance of reaching the knockout stages.

Poland 1-1 Russia

Tuesday may have been Russia day, but Blaszczykowski's sensational equaliser ensured it became a national day of celebration in Poland too.

The co-hosts remain unbeaten after a second successive 1-1 draw and Blaszczykowski's 57th-minute thunderbolt provided a fitting hallmark to a hugely entertaining game.

It ensured Poland took away the point they deserved, but it could have been more. The co-hosts made a lively start and the impressive Robert Lewandowski saw a crisp left-foot strike fly just over before Eugen Polanski had a goal disallowed for offside.

Instead, it was Russia who took control eight minutes before half-time. Andrei Arshavin was the provider, his searching free-kick inviting Dzagoev to ease through a crowded area and steer home a deft header.

Russia looked set to build on that lead and Arshavin remained a constant threat, but too often his final pass proved wayward. That was a trait which ultimately came to haunt Russia as, from one such stray ball, Poland broke with devastating effect.

When the ball finally found its way to Blaszczykowski, he took one right-foot touch to set himself up for a shot before unleashing an unstoppable left-foot shot that flew past Russian keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev.

Malafeev had no chance with that strike but rescued his side on three other occasions to ensure that Russia stay top of Group A -- but with everything to play for in Saturday's final round of group matches.

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