WARSAW — The Czech Republic took advantage of a makeshift Greek defence to score two quick-fire goals in the first six minutes and held on for a 2-1 win in Uefa Euro 2012 Group A last night.
A desperate Greek side fought their way back into the match at the start of the second half when Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech let an innocuous-looking ball slip through his hands to the feet of substitute Fanis Gekas who swept the ball into an empty net.
The Greeks continued to surge forward looking for the equaliser but could not recover from a terrible start.
The first goal came when Tomas Hubschman split the defence with a through ball to Petr Jiracek on the edge of the penalty area and he confidently rifled his shot into the net against a Greek team sorely missing their first-choice central defenders.
The Czechs, who lost their opening match against Russia 4-1, kept pressing and notched the second when defender Theodor Gebre Selassie’s cross was bundled in from close range by a falling Vaclav Pilar. The Greeks were unlucky not get a goal late in the first half after Giorgos Fotakis’s header into the net was ruled out for offside. But the defensive problems for Greece mounted when starting goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias limped off midway through the opening period and was replaced by Michalis Sifakis.
The Greeks, full of confidence after clawing back for a 1-1 draw in their opening match against Poland, could not overcome the loss of the two defenders who had anchored a usually stingy defence. Veteran midfielder Costas Katsouranis was paired with 20-year-old Kyriakos Papadopoulos, but the Czechs’ nifty passing game gave the Greeks problems all night.