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Euro 2012 - Group A Matchday 2 Recap

Group A left wide open after second round of matches

Group A

Co-hosts Poland secured a vital draw against adversaries Russia at the National Stadium in Warsaw to keep their Euro 2012 dreams alive heading into the third round of group matches.

Jakub Blaszczykowski’s second half wonder strike cancelled out Alan Dzagoev’s third goal of the tournament, pegging back Dick Advocaat’s side who had looked destined to book their place in the last eight with a game to spare after taking the lead. And it could have been even sweeter for the Poles who asserted their dominance as the contest wore on, with Russia seemingly suffering a slight burnout following their emphatic 4-1 opening day success against the Czech Republic.

The Russian’s were evidently happy to play out a draw as stoppage time approached – and in the end the outcome probably suited both nations who will hope to secure qualification on Saturday. Russia are still in pole position at the top of the group on four points and will book a quarter-final berth by avoiding defeat against Greece when they return to the Polish capital.

Poland, meanwhile, must beat the Czech Republic in ‘a winner takes all’ affair in Wroclaw.

After suffering that miserable opening day battering at the hands of Russia, the Czech Republic played their way back into contention with a 2-1 victory over Greece, earned largely thanks to a blistering start in the first few minutes.

Michal Bilek’s charges demonstrated the perfect way to inflict a backlash by netting twice in the opening exchanges, first through Petr Jiracek and then through Vaclav Pilar who struck his second goal of the competition.

Although the Czech’s were cruising and in complete control, an absolute howler from Petr Cech gifted Greece a lifeline and half time substitute Theofanis Gekas dually obliged. But it wasn’t enough for Greece to rescue anything from the match and the Euro 2004 champions now sit bottom of Group A with just a point to their name.

Amazingly however, Fernando Santos’ men can still qualify for the knockout stages but they will have to beat Russia in order to do just that – a result which many punters will struggle to predict based on the Greek’s poor performances so far.

So things could get rather complicated on match day three depending on how circumstances play out, but backers are likely to expect Russia to top the group if able to freshen themselves up adequately and turn in a display similar to that which they did against the Czech’s.

Co-hosts Poland will be fancied to stay at their own party against the Czech Republic and they definitely have a chance of winning if able to keep on the front foot for longer periods whilst converting their opportunities in the process.

A win for the Czech’s will of course take them through to the last eight and that would mirror a similar situation to Euro 1996 where they qualified after suffering a comprehensive defeat on the opening day.