Poles focused on impressive Russians
Warsaw, Poland (Sports Network) - Poland coach Franciszek Smuda attempted to keep everything in perspective after a draw against Greece to open Euro 2012, and believed it was important to turn the page its second game against Russia.
Poland enjoyed a man advantage for a spell against Greece on Friday, and could have easily won its tournament opener. But at the same time, Smuda admitted it could have also ended with a loss.
The Greeks tied the match and then had an opportunity to win from the penalty spot but, after Poles goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off, backup goalie Przemyslaw Tyton came off the bench to save the attempt.
With both teams down to 10 men, Poland limped to the final whistle to earn the draw and a crucial point.
"I congratulated all the players when they came off and told them to cheer up, because it would have been much worse if we'd lost," Smuda said.
"We have two matches to go and should not dwell on this but just focus on the next one and winning it."
Tyton will be forced into the net for 90 minutes Tuesday against Russia, which opened with an impressive 4-1 victory over the Czech Republic to seize control of Group A.
With Poland and Greece two points back, and the Czechs last, Russia can secure a return to knockout play with a win against the co-host at National Stadium.
Poland will try to delay that until at least the last day of group play, as it can take a major step toward the final eight with a win over Russia.
The Poles got off to a perfect start against the Greeks, as Robert Lewandowski scored early. However, Poland failed to build on the goal, and will need a top performance against Russia.
"This tournament is still open," Smuda said.
Russia entered the tournament with its expectations riding on its offense, and its opener was a great sign. Alan Dzagoev scored twice, Roman Pavlyuchenko had a goal and an assist, and Roman Shirokov also scored.
Although there were lapses during the fixture against the Czechs, the Russians were the better team and the final score was an accurate snapshot of the game. Now, Dick Advocaat's side has to follow up that performance against Poland.
"On Tuesday," Advocaat said, "it's going to be another interesting game for both teams in another great stadium."