Co-hosts Poland went up against all the odds and managed to draw 1:1 with Group A leaders Russia. Poland deserved to win. They were the better, but more unlucky side on Tuesday night and have showed a lot more heart than Russia.
Poland were the more dangerous side at the start of the match, with two headers ranging on target forcing Vyacheslav Malafeev to react quickly. However, Russia soon realized they would not have an easy game on their hands like last week and picked up the pace. Dick Advocaat's men pressured the Polish defence and made themselves look dangerous, causing the Poles to scramble a lot at back. An unmarked Dzagoev in the penalty box during a free kick was enough to score his third goal of the tournament, and put his side up by one. A goal before the half was ideal for Russian confidence, but made Polish ambition for a response that much greater.
With the first half over and the second half in action, Russia seemed to have slowed down giving the Poles a chance to get back into the game.
Russia were far too dependent on Arshavin and he's not had his best game. His lax response after losing the ball and giving freedom for that Polish counter attack to happen is what resulted to the equalising goal. Top notch screamer from the skipper Blaszczykowski, who deserves that captain’s armband.
Poland now have a very good chance to progress from Group A. Winning on Saturday against the Czech Republic will guarantee the Poles a ticket to the quarter finals. A victory on Polish home soil is in the cards, so about time for one which will result in Poland advancing to happen.
Post game reaction:
"I think we deserve praise because all of us put a lot into this match. The tactics we set up before the match we carried out 100%. We're still in the tournament, so with this point a win in our final match puts us into the knockout stage." said Poland captain Jakub Blaszczykowski after the match.
"Poland played very well tonight, under the risk of losing the chance to win a place in the last eight if they lost. Meanwhile, we allowed them to create too many chances in attack. That means we still need to strengthen our defence.
"We also played well and scored before the break and had many chances in the second half, but we missed them all. In general, I'd say the draw is a good result for us." said Russia coach Dick Advocaat after the game.
Russia need at least a point from their final game against Greece to qualify as of right.
If the Czech Republic draw with Poland and Russia lose, then Russia still qualify because they defeated the Czechs earlier in the tournament.
Poland need to beat the Czechs to qualify and vice versa. Greece will qualify if they defeat Russia.
And if either Czech Republic or Poland win their game, and Russia are beaten by Greece - then Russia are out.
The standings in Group A are as follows then:
Russia are top on four points, Czech Republic are second on three, Poland have two, and Greece are bottom with one point.
With Greece to play Russia and Poland taking on Czech Republic in the final games on Saturday night, it is all to play for.