The Poles controlled play for long stretches yesterday, but still had to settle for a 1-1 draw against Greece in the opening match of the European Championship.
Both teams finished with 10 men, but it was Greece that missed its chance for victory in Group A when substitute goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton saved a penalty from Giorgos Karagounis with his first touch of the match.
“We’re not happy because in the end we could have won it,” said Dimitris Salpigidis, who scored for Greece and won the penalty. “We were left with 10 men, but we came back strong.”
EURO TRIP: Poland goalie Wojciech Szczesny (left) takes down Dimitris Salpingidis, earning a red card and giving Greece a penalty during yesterday’s Euro 2012 opener in Warsaw. Backup Przemyslaw Tyton saved the penalty, preserving a 1-1 tie and giving each Group A team a point.
Shortly after Salpigidis had equalized by knocking in a loose ball in the 51st minute, the diminutive striker was taken down by Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny in the area.
Szczesny was given a red card, and Karagounis was given the chance to again earn Greece an opening match win against the host nation at a European Championship. Eight years ago, Karagounis scored in the opening 2-1 win over Euro 2004 host Portugal.
It didn’t happen this time, but it didn’t diminish Greece’s comeback.
“It not a small thing to come here, to Poland, with a good home crowd and to get this result after losing a man,” said Karagounis, the Greece captain. “At halftime we knew we had to recover and we did. We lost the penalty but even then we could have got another goal.”
Robert Lewandowski gave Poland the lead in the 17th minute with a downward header. But the Poles couldn’t hang on for the win on their big day as co-host.
“We had great pressure, great stress. It was a big burden for a very young team,” Poland coach Franciszek Smuda said. “On the objective of getting through the group, we still may achieve it.”
And although it was Poland that blew the lead, Tyton was Poland’s savior.
“I stepped onto the pitch and thought, ‘Cool, this is my time to help out the team,’ ” Tyton said. “And I’m happy that I could bring some joy to the crowd in the stadium and the people watching at home.”
Most of the 56,070 fans at the sold-out National Stadium roared after Poland’s goal, and took to whistling loudly every time the outmatched Greeks touched the ball.
“This game had everything,” midfielder Vassilis Torosidis said. “We had a terrible first 30 minutes. ... After the red card, we actually dominated, so I think the result is fair.”
Giorgos Karagounis, Przemyslaw Tyton, Backup Przemyslaw Tyton, Poland, Wojciech Szczesny, Dimitris Salpigidis, Dimitris Salpingidis, WARSAW, Poland, Poland coach Franciszek Smuda