GREECE missed their chance, and the penalty kick that went with it, in a tournament-opening 1-1 draw last night with co-hosts Poland.
Shortly after substitute Dimitris Salpigidis had equalised for ten-man Greece 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 captain Giorgos Karagounis was given the chance to again earn Greece another 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.
His shot, however, was saved by replacement goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton, whose first touch of the ball salvaged a point for the Poles in Group A.
“We’re not happy because in the end we could have won it,” Salpigidis said. “We were left with ten men but we came back strong.”
Poland controlled the play in the first half, exploiting the right side on the field and eventually taking the lead in the 17th minute.
Two of the Borussia Dortmund trio that work on the right side set up the goal. Midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski crossed the ball into the centre for Robert Lewandowski, and the striker calmly headed the ball into the ground and under the charging Costas Chalkias.
The game changed in the second half as Greece started to defend better and repel the near constant attacking while taking more opportunities at the other end.
The Greeks will next face the Czech Republic on Tuesday in Wroclaw, while Poland stays in Warsaw to take on Russia.