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Czech Republic beats Greece 2-1 at Euro 2012
By DEREK GATOPOULOS
WROCLAW, Poland (AP) Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar scored in the first six minutes to give the Czech Republic a 2-1 win over Greece on Tuesday at the European Championship.
Jiracek shot the ball past Greece goalkeeper Costas Chalkias in the third minute after a pass from Tomas Hubschmann sliced through the Greek defense. Three minutes later, Pilar scored his second goal of the tournament, beating Greek defenders to a ball sent across the goal by Czech Republic defender Theodor Gebre Selassie.
Substitute Fanis Gekas pulled one back for Greece in 53rd minute with a tap in after Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech spilled the ball and bumped into defender Tomas Sivok.
"It was my mistake. Who else is there to blame?" the Chelsea goalkeeper said. "I'd been playing well till then, and I was determined I wouldn't let any in."
The Greeks, who played the Group A match without two key central defenders, nearly scored another in the 41st, but the header from Giorgos Fotakis was called back for offside.
The Greeks recovered well after their disastrous start, but lost another player when Chalkias limped off the field in the 23rd minute. He was replaced by Michalis Sifakis.
"This was another game with a very bad start for us," said Greece coach Fernando Santos, whose side had trailed after 17 minutes of the draw with Poland. "We were chasing the game for the whole match after going two down so quickly."
Greece's defense had been an important feature of its campaign to reach Euro 2012, conceding just five goals in 10 games.
"We conceded so few goals in qualifying, and this happens to us," Santos said. "We did find our balance but could not get a second goal."
Despite the defensive problems, Santos stuck with his attacking lineup of three forwards. The strategy helped the Greeks dominate the second half.
Czech Republic captain Tomas Rosicky came off with an injured Achilles' tendon in the second half, and team officials said it was too early to say whether it would rule him out for the Czech's last group game against Poland.
The Czech fans booed coach Michal Bilek at the start of the match, but the team rebounded from its opening 4-1 loss to Russia in Group A. The Czechs also avenged their semifinal loss to Greece at Euro 2004.
Czech Republic: Petr Cech, Theodor Gebre Selassie, Tomas Sivok, Michal Kadlec, David Limbersky, Tomas Hubschman, Jaroslav Plasil, Petr Jiracek, Tomas Rosicky (Daniel Kolar, 46, Frantisek Rajtoral, 89), Vaclav Pilar, Milan Baros (Tomas Pekhart, 64).
Greece: Costas Chalkias (Michalis Sifakis, 23), Yiannis Maniatis, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Vassilis Torosidis, Jose Holebas, Giorgos Karagounis, Giorgos Fotakis (Fanis Gekas, 46), Costas Katsouranis, Costas Fortounis (Costas Mitroglou, 71st), Georgios Samaras, Dimitris Salpingidis.
Updated June 12, 2012