It’s round two of fixtures in Group A. Everybody’s favourite dark horses, the Czech Republic are looking like a pale imitation of their old selves and they need a result against Greece to get the campaign back on track. After that, the very impressive Russians have a chance to generate even more hype, but they’ll find tough against their historic rivals and the hosts, Poland. I’ll be here to bring you all the latest news, views and some entirely random stuff throughout the course of the evening.
Feel free to leave your comments, predictions or general observations in the comments section below.
FULL TIME: Poland 1 – 1 Russia
FULL TIME: Greece 1 – 2 Czech Republic
9.36pm: FULL TIME It’s another draw for Poland, but one that was far more satisfying than the Greece game. Russia didn’t quite look like world beaters tonight, but there were enough glimpses of talent to suggest they’re still a major threat. We’re in for a fascinating final round of Group A matches on Saturday.
9.35pm: Brozek comes on for Obraniak who reacts like someone who has just has had an eyebrow shaved off.
9.33pm: Three minutes of injury time.
goes into exile gets the hook and Matuszczyk comes on.
9.24pm: Less than ten minutes to go. Poland are 9/2 if you fancy the fairytale.
9.22pm: Russia take off their mouthy goal-machine Dzagoev and Izmailov takes his place.
9.19pm: Boenisch backs himself again from long range. It goes over. He should probably stop backing himself from long range and pass to a team-mate.
9.17pm: Dzagoev gets booked. ‘Being mouthy’ is the offence.
9.15pm: Poland make a substitution. Mierzejewski comes on for central midfielder Dudka.
9.12pm: Kerzhakov comes off for Russia after another disappointing outing. But hey, at least he didn’t miss 40 odd chances today. Spurs benchwarmer, Roman Pavlyuchenko comes on in his place.
9.10pm: Dzagoev gets into another good position, but his shot is saved by Tyton. At the other end, Malafeev again makes a save he may not have known a lot about.
9.07pm Arshavin is showing exactly the ‘pull your hair out’ kind of form we saw so often at Arsenal. He does something mesmerising and then follows it up by messing up a simple five yard pass. That was Emmanuel Eboue’s job!
9.05pm: Just under half an hour to go. It’s wide open in the betting. 16/5 Poland, 10/11 Draw, 21/10 Russia.
9.02pm: Lewandowski and Denisov both go into the referee’s notebook for a delightfully euphemistic ‘coming together’.
8.59pm: GOAL! POLAND Not Arshavin’s finest moment as he wastes a great four on three break with a sloppy ball. Poland take it down the other end and Blaszczykowski blasts a cracking goal into the top left hand corner of Malafeev’s net.
8.53pm: Another good bit of work from Malafeev cuts out a promising Polish attack. He gets his fists to the ball milliseconds before Lewandowski can direct it goalwards. Plus he got to look really tough doing it.
8.48pm: Meanwhile, back on planet earth, the game resumes and Poland make a bright start to the second half.
8.47pm: Just as we go back to for the second half, Eamonn Dunphy brings an end to the half-time panel with a random lie. He claims the goal-line officials were present when Lampard’s goal against Germany wasn’t given in 2010, which this clip proves is total rubbish:
8.39pm: Away from Euro 2012, Twitter has been busy generating random made-up rumours this evening. Earlier, reports emerged that Harry Redknapp had resigned as Tottenham manager. The club have since denied it. In other news, there’s disappointment as Hannah revealed SClub7 won’t be getting back together for a reunion tour. Apparently, Jo can’t get the time off from TopShop.
8.33pm: The referee brings the first half to an end. Russia go in for the half-time oranges with the lead, but Poland shouldn’t be too despondent. They’ve played well and created chances.
8.31pm: There’s a better shout for a penalty for Russia on that occasion as Dzagoev got knocked over in the penalty area. It’s given as a free out.
8.28pm: Zhirkov has a decent volley at goal that goes harmlessly wide. It’s time for a quick look at the odds and Poland are 17/2 to turn it around from here.
8.24pm: Poland come roaring back and Blaszczykowski forces Malafeev into a good save to kept out a well-struck shot from about 20 yards out.
8.22pm: GOAL! RUSSIA Poland were starting to take control, but Russia strike from a set-piece. Arshavin plays in a love ball from a free-kick on the left hand side and Dzagoev gets his head on the end of it to put it beyond Tyton.
Don’t worry, the Polish fans have just revealed one that says ‘the singing grannies were shit’.
8.13pm: Good chance for Russia, but no-one, including the Polish defenders, can get on the end of the low ball across the six yard box.
8.09pm: ITV pull a classic ITV moment by cutting from the action to promote some crappy competition. If anything interesting happened in the match then, I apologise, I was too busy ringing a premium phone line to enter.
8.04pm: NOT A GOAL! That was one of the best offside goals I’ve ever seen. The hosts work the ball brilliantly, but the through ball finds Polanski in an offside position and his cool finish doesn’t count. Not the first time Polanski has been caught offside.
7.58pm: Half a penalty shout for the Russians which their fans get very worked up about. It’s no way a penalty, but we’ll put it down to patriotism and maybe a pre-match thimble of sherry or two.
7.55pm: Ronnie Whelan gives us the lowdown on Polish goalkeeper, Przemyslaw Tyton. Or at least what he read on Wikipedia earlier this afternoon.
7.52pm: Malafeev, the Russian goalkeeper is called into action twice in quick succession. First with a save he didn’t know a whole lot about and secondly with a save from a header that would have gone down well with the photographers behind the goal.
7.50pm: Russia get the first corner of the game. Well done if you were mad enough to bet on it. There’s some nice interplay on the right hand side, but Poland get the ball away with minimal fuss.
7.46pm: Poland kick off after another irritating countdown.
7.42pm: It’s more than your average ‘mumbling through the anthems’ bit. The Russians unfurl a gigantic and provocative ‘This is Russia’ banner and the Polish fans and players belt out their anthem with extra passion.
7.25pm: There’s about twenty minutes to go until this game begins. If all the punditry is sapping your will to live, here’s an alternative preview of the game.
7.11pm: These two teams have met three times since the Russians gave up on the auld communism. The honours have been even-stevened with one win a piece and a draw in their most recent meeting back in 2007.
7.06pm: TEAM NEWS
After dismantling the Czech Republic on Friday, the Russians stick with the same team responsible. Poland already knew they’d have to do with Wojciech Szczesny for this game and Przemyslaw Tyton fills in. Dudka comes into the midfield at the expense of Rybus.
Malafeev, Aniukov, Berezutsky, Ignashevich, Zhirkov, Shirokov, Denisov, Zyryanov, Dzagoev, Kerzhakov, Arshavin
Tyton, Piszczek, Wasilewski, Perquis, Boenisch, Dudka, Polanski, Blaszczykowski, Murawski, Obraniak, Lewandowski.
7.01pm: The RTE panel are busy writing the obituaries for Petr Cech’s career. He’s rubbish apparently. I won’t give the opinions any more credibility by reporting them in full.
6.50pm: FULL TIME! The Czech Republic hold on. They were good for about 20 minutes, but apart from that they were poor. They were less poor than Greece who created nothing and owed their goal to an absolute howler from Cech. It wasn’t impressive, but the Czechs are right back in the hunt for qualification whilst the Greeks are in real trouble.
6.48pm: Three minutes of injury time for Greece. The way they attack you could give them three hours and they’d still be relying on Cech to boot it into his own net.
6.47pm: Rajtoral comes on for the Czech Republic and Daniel Kolar has the indignity of being a substitute who gets substituted! Ouch.
6.42pm: Greece have resorted to Plan B. Which is a lot like Plan A, only with more urgency. They repeatedly hoof the ball into the Czech penalty area, but the Czech defence stays solid.
6.36pm: Ten minutes plus stoppage time to go. The draw is 9/2 and the Czechs are a fairly comprehensive 1/8 to hold on for the win.
6.32pm: Aside from the crap dive and the not actually scoring, Samaras has had a really good game tonight. He really performs Under Pressure.
6.28pm: Mitroglou comes on for Greece. Fortounis makes way.
6.26pm: They looked dead and buried after 7 minutes, but Greece are exerting serious pressure now. The Czechs are now looking about as useful as Jon Champion’s list of economic puns.
6.22pm: Kolar gets booked. He doesn’t moan about it.
6.21pm: Milan Baros is coming off and that’s a huge surprise to me. Because I didn’t know he was on. It’s been a quiet game for the ex-Liverpool striker. Pekhart replaces him.
6.20pm: Nice work from Samaras. He dribbles to the endline, but once he’s within sight of the penalty box, throws himself to the ground with one of the flimsiest dives of all time. It’s not given as a booking for some reason.
6.14pm: Now Salpingidis gets booked for a sliding tackle. It’s not that bad. He would have gotten away with it in the 1970s. Like that beard.
6.13pm: Kyriakos Papadopoulos gets booked for fouling Milan Baros. I didn’t see it because I was replaying the Cech howler again.
6.10pm: GOAL! Greece! This one will go down as one of the all time howlers at the Euros, especially if the Greeks can get something out of this. Petr Cech fumbles a simple low cross and leaves Fanis Gekas with a tap-in. An absolute gift.
6.06pm: Greece have started the second half much better than they did the first. Although that wouldn’t be particularly difficult. They’re 12/1 to salvage a draw from this.
6.04pm: Jiracek goes down holding his penis. Anywhere other than on the football pitch and that’s a police caution.
6.02pm: Fernando Santos is trying to earn his corn. He sticks on burly forward Fanis Gekas in place of Giorgos Fotakis. The Czech’s also make a change, bringing on Daniel Kolar for Tomas Rosicky. The second half begins.