Poland, Russia tie to leave Group A up for grabs
Warsaw, Poland (Sports Network) - Poland has yet to lose at Euro 2012, or win, but the co-host will need a victory in its final match to reach knockout play.
Jakub Blaszczykowski scored in the second half Tuesday as Poland tied Russia, 1-1, at National Stadium to leave both knockout berths from Group A undecided.
"We've proved that we can play a good game and achieve good results. The supporters can make a difference and we have to believe in ourselves," said Blaszczykowski.
Alan Dzagoev scored his Euro-high third goal in the first half for Russia, but it surrendered a halftime lead for the first-ever time at Euros as it missed a chance to lock up the top spot in the group.
Russia still escaped with the top spot in the group with four points, with the Czech Republic second on three points, Poland third on two points, and Greece last on just one point.
The Czech Republic defeated Greece, 2-1, earlier Tuesday.
Poland will play the Czech Republic on Saturday, and will need a win to extend its tournament. The Czechs would advance with a draw. Russia will play Greece on Saturday, and a draw would be enough to advance. Greece needs a win.
Russia, the Czech Republic and Poland can all still win the group.
Poland was the better squad early, and came within inches of scoring less than 7 minutes into the match. Ludovic Obraniak swung a free kick into the area and Sebastian Boenisch directed a header on goal from inside the 6-yard box.
Although Russia goalkeeper Vyatcheslav Malafeev was helpless to save the shot, it bounced off the inside of his left knee as Poland missed a chance to secure an early lead.
Robert Lewandowski followed with another chance for the Poles in the 11th, but his 20-yard shot sailed just high of the upper-left corner, and Eugen Polanski had a goal called back for offside in the 18th for the event's co-host.
Russia survived the early scares and Dzagoev added to his two-goal performance against the Czech Republic late in the first half. Andrei Arshavin sent a free kick in from the left, and Dzagoev flicked a header inside the far post.
The Russians entered the match with 11 wins and a draw in 12 all-time games in Euro finals when scoring first, and when the one-goal edge held until half, it improved their chances as it has won all seven Euro matches they lead at half.
Poland was not scared off by history, and just 12 minutes into the second half tied the score.
A quick counter attack ended with Blaszczykowski cutting inside Yuri Zhirkov to unleash an 18-yard blast past a diving Malafeev, just inside the left post, and into the side netting for his first goal of the tournament.
"We played very open football in the second half which gave the Poland players an opportunity to play on the counter, and they took advantage of that," said Arshavin.
Poland nearly grabbed the lead inside 70 minutes, but Polanski could not sneak a tough shot from a tight angle past Malafeev, as the squads reached the final 20 minutes tied.
With so much at stake, both sides seemed content with the point in the closing stages as the match closed without much action. Now, it will all come down to the final day of group play, with all four teams still in the hunt.