Euro 2012 day nine analysis: Greece evoke spirit of 2004

Greece proved against Russia that functional can defeat flair at Euro 2012 as they reached the quarter-finals against the odds.

While much-fancied Russia dominated possession, had the vast majority of attempts at goal and were more accurate with their passing, it was the solitary strike from veteran Greek captain Giorgos Karagounis that separated the sides.

Greece's gameplan was about being solid in defence and hitting Russia on the counter-attack.

And their winning goal came when Karagounis pounced on a Yuri Zhirkov mistake following a Russia throw-in during first-half injury time.

That was Greece's second shot on target from three attempts.

In contrast, Russia had 17 shots in the first half but only one on target - and their profligacy was to be their downfall as they were eliminated from the tournament.

Greece's Russian conquest in numbers

  • Greece had eight shots and two on target
  • Goal-hero Giorgos Karagounis equalled Theo Zagorakis's Greek record of 120 caps, but a booking for diving means he will be suspended for Greece's quarter-final against the Group B winners
  • This was Greece's first win at a European Championship since they won the tournament in 2004
  • Greece only had more possession than Russia during the first quarter of the match
  • Greece relied on the 35m-plus long ball (26%) more than Russia (10%)
  • Greece were less patient than Russia in their build-up with 39% of their passes hit forward as opposed Russia's 30%
  • Greece made 12 blocks, equalling England's record in a single European Championship game (v Portugal in 2004 and France in 2012)
  • Greece full-backs Vasilis Torosidis and Georgios Tzavelas, were first and third in terms of Greek players with the most possession

BBC pundits on Match of the Day

Lee Dixon

Lee Dixon

"The Greeks were 2-0 down against the Czechs after six mins, missed a penalty when they were 1-1 against Poland and now they've gone and beaten Russia.

"They were dogged and got men forward. They defended in second half like I didn't think they could. Russia simply didn't do enough.

"Regarding the goal, it was good it fell to the most experienced player on the pitch. He now misses the quarter-final. I thought the referee made a shocking decision to book him for a dive when it was a foul in the penalty area.

"But after the match he went from unhappy to the happiest he has ever been.

"I think Russia thought the Greeks would be easy to push over. Andrei Arshavin was flitting in and out and didn't create as much we thought he would."

Robbie Savage

Robbie Savage

"Greecedefended much better in second half and I thought Georgios Samaras was great.

"Russia flattered to deceive in the first game and I thought Poland dominated them in second.

"With the players they have, they should have dominated, but didn't.

"Greece had the best chances and most of Russia chances came from outside the box.

"I thought captain Karagounis led by example. However, mentally he was all over the place when he was booked and didn't get the pen.

"I am wondering how have they gone though?"

What others said about Greece's triumph:

"Today's saga is something comparable to what happened in Portugal [when they won Euro 2004]. We are a new team - a renewed team - and we managed to qualify against everything. I really mean that." - Giorgos Karagounis

"The Greeks have great pride and they have earned respect from everyone. History democracy, science, values - it all started in Greece." - Greece coach Fernando Santos

"In the first half I think we played really well. And, in the second half, against a team like Greece, with all respect, it was hard to play against. It's not that we didn't play well." - Russia coach Dick Advocaat

"Incredible turn if events in Group A, who would thought that Russia is out and that Greece are in the quarters? #hopeforall #euro2012" - Ex-Denmark keeper Peter Schmeichel on Twitterexternal-link


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