This was a do or die match for both nations after Russia went down to Spain and Greece went down to Sweden. The match was 2004 Champions vs Gus’s Russia. Greece looked very weak in their opening match playing super defensive could Russia get the win that they so badly needed?
Greece dumped the 5 man defence and made nurmerous changes to look for a win they brought in Christos Patsatzoglou, Nikos Liberopoulos, and Yannis Amanatidis at the expense of Giorgios Karagounis, Paraskevas Antzas and Fanis Gekas.
Guus Hiddink changed two players from the side that was humbled 4-1 by Spain, as Sergei Ignashevich and Dmitry Torbinsky came in for Roman Shirokov and Dmitry Sychev.
Zhirkov got Russia going early creating excellent runs down the wing and crossing balls over into the box a very Roberto Carlos like performance attacking from right back and leaving all defencive duties behind which was the perfect strategy since Greeces only attacks came from long balls through the middle.
Although Russia were looking the more dangerous Greece did have the first major chance. The Greek hero at Euro 2004 was guilty of a shocking miss on 20 minutes when he was left unmarked for an inswinging Angelos Basinas free-kick, yet somehow failed to divert the ball in when a goal looked like the only possible outcome.
Greece missed their chance and Russia punsihed scoring 12 minutes later. The goal came after a horrible judgement by the vastly experienced Antonis Nikopolidis in the Greek goal. Nikopolidis chased a deep cross from the left by Dmitri Torbinski but was beaten to the ball by Sergei Semak, who hooked it across the face of goal to present Zyrianov with a simple finish with several defenders standing around stunned.
The second half was a period of high entertainment Greece were forced to attack and attack they did.
Charisteas kicked things off with another glaring miss – this time lobbing tamely at Igor Akinfeev after collecting a pass from substitute Giorgos Karagounis.
Both teams should have scored more or some goals during the game but the result was a fit one Russia deserved to win. The 2004 Champions were knocked out and Russia entered another do or die against Sweden the winner was off to the quarter finals.
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