Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny had a nightmare start for Poland at Euro 2012 after being sent off with a straight red card in the 68th minute of a 1-1 game. The co-host nation got off to a fine start with striker Robert Lewandowski of German champion Borussia Dortmund giving them the lead in the 17th minute. It looked like the Poles might extend their lead or at least hang onto it when Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off for Greece in the 44th minute after picking up his second yellow card of the game.
Instead, Greece turned the game around with a little help from Szczesny. The keeper failed to deal with a claimable cross from the right wing by Vasilis Torosidis in the 51st minute and collided with one of his defenders. The ball fell right to the feet of substitute Dimitris Salpingidis and he calmly deposited it into the back of the empty net. Things went from bad to worse for Szczesny when he brought down Salpingidis in the penalty area about 20 minutes later by sticking out his left leg and tripping him.
Thankfully for Poland, keeper Przemyslaw Tyton of Holland’s PSV Eindhoven was summoned from the bench and dove hard and low to his left to save the penalty kick by Greek captain Giorgos Karagounis. This was the turning point of the game and a potentially embarrassing loss at home was avoided as Poland hung on to earn a point in a 1-1 draw in a pretty entertaining Group A game at Warsaw’s National Stadium.
Szczesny will now definitely miss the next match for Poland against group-leading Russia on Tue. June 12th. A red card at Euro 2012 means an automatic one-game suspension, but additional punishment is always a possibility, but unlikely in the keeper’s case. Arsenal keeper Lukas Fabianski was ruled out of the Polish team shortly before the Euro 2012 tournament kicked off due to injury and third choice keeper Grzegorz Sandomierski will now need to be inserted into the line-up.
But while Szczesny suffered through yet another game he’d like to forget, Arsenal’s Tomas Rosicky and Andrei Arshavin put on fine performances for the Czech Republic and Russia respectively. Arshavin actually had an outstanding game in Russia’s 4-1 win over the Czechs while Rosicky showed some promising signs especially after just coming back from an injury. He tested Russian keeper Vyacheslav Malafeev with a couple of good shots, and while others may disagree, I thought he put in a pretty good performance overall as his country’s skipper despite the score line.
As for Arshavin, who’s also his team’s captain, he was simply excellent and didn’t put a foot wrong all night. He linked up well with his 21-year-old Zenit St Petersburg teammate Alan Dzagoev, who scored two goals, and laid out some excellently weighted passes. Dzagoev became the second-youngest player to score two goals in a European Championship game. Man United’s Wayne Rooney managed it back in 2004 in Portugal as an 18-year-old.
Arshavin created chances for his teammates throughout the game with passes to Roman Shirokov and Roman Pavlyuchenko resulting in goals. He was artistic in his approach during the 90 minutes and looked to be in top form by being a threat each and every time he had the ball.