Two goals, two red cards, one missed penalty, a 56,000-strong capacity crowd at the Warsaw National Stadium – that’s what the Euro 2012 opening match between hosts Poland and Greece was all about, setting tone for the entire tournament.
The Poles hit the ground running right from the start. Borussia Dortmund striker Varsovian Robert Levandowsky took charge of an assault, and after just 17 minutes of play was rewarded for insistence. Levandowsky deflected a cross from the right and into the high corner of the Greek net to send the home crowd going mad.
This was not the end of troubles for the 2004 champions as their center back Avraam Papadopoulos was injured and had to leave the pitch. His colleague Sokratis Papastathopoulos followed his path but for another reason – he was sent off late in the first half for two yellow cards.
The Greeks didn’t give up there, and could have been awarded a penalty after an apparent handball in the Polish box. However, referee Carlos Velasco Carballo preferred to leave the episode without attention. Only a halftime whistle could bridle passions on the pitch as the offended Greeks tried to explain the Spaniard how wrong he was.
The second half turned the run of play upside down. The Greeks equalized immediately courtesy of Dimitrios Salpingidis, who delivered home the ball, left without attendance.
The Hellenes had a chance to stun their hosts. A ball over the top was taken down by Dimitris Salpingidis, who took it round Wojciech Szczesny. But a stray foot caught Salpingidis, who went to ground leaving the referee with no choice but to send Szczesny off and give Greece a penalty.
The Greek captain took the ball to formalize the execution but the penalty was saved in style by the substitute goalie Przemyslaw Tyton.
The remainder of the game didn’t find the winner. Poland drew with Greece in favor of Russia and the Czech Republic.