Euro Cup 2012: second round recap
In the second round of group play, some teams saw their Euro Cup dreams vanish, while others made their mark on the tournament.
Greece vs. Czech Republic
The Czech Republic was coming off a 4-1 loss to Russia and needed to redeem itself. Greece had pulled off a 1-1 tie with Poland after a roller coaster of a game. Both teams were looking for a win to give them three points and boost them into the top two in the group. The Czech Republic came out firing and took a quick 2-0 lead in the first six minutes of the game. In the 53rd minute, Theofanis Gekas brought Greece to within one. However, the Czechs held Greece off for the remainder of the game, and the final score remained 2-1.
Russia vs. Poland
Group favorites, Russia, was leading the group and was running off a high scoring win against the Czechs. In the 37th minute, Russian youngster Alan Dzagoev scored his third goal of the tournament to put Russia up 1-0. Poland’s captain, Jakub Blaszczykowski, equalized in the 57th minute with a beautiful goal from 20 yards out into the upper left corner; the goal of the tournament thus far. Blaszczykowski’s goal dashed Russia’s hopes of becoming the first team guaranteed a spot in the final eight.
Portugal vs. Denmark
The first round of games in the Group of Death were far from disappointing. Denmark upset the Netherlands in the first round, and Portugal was seeking a win to give them any hope of reaching the final eight. Portugal took a 2-0 lead in the first half of the game, while Christiano Ronaldo continued to struggling during important matches. In the 41st minute, Nikolas Bendtner continued his scoring streak against Portugal with his fifth goal in five matches. In the 80th minute, Bendtner struck again scoring what would seem to be the game saving goal and tying the game 2-2. However, in the 87th minute, Portugal substitute Valera, who came on in the 83rd minute, scored the game winning goal to put Portugal ahead 3-2 and preventing Denmark from becoming the first team to clinch a spot in the final eight.
Netherlands vs. Germany
Germany has been very impressive and seem to have no weaknesses in its game. The Netherlands were coming off an upset and needed the points to give it a chance of moving on in the tournament. Germany striker Mario Gomez has been having an outstanding tournament and added two more goals to his score sheet to put Germany up 2-0 at halftime. In the 73rd minute, Robin Van Persie gave the Netherlands a glimmer of hope with a goal, but ultimately it was unable to capitalize and Germany won 2-1.
Italy vs. Croatia
Andrea Pirlo gave Italy a halftime lead off a beautiful free kick from 20 yards away. However, in the second half, Italy lost its attacking drive and Croatia took advantage of the small lead Italy had. Mario Mandzukic scored his third goal in two matches and tied the game 1-1. Going into the final round of games, neither team is safe from elimination.
Spain vs. Italy
In this game, Spain showed why it was world champions and Euro defending champions. Spain opted to go with its usual 4-5-1 starting Fernando Torres up top. Torres has been in a slump during the past two tournaments, but Vicente del Bosque has continued to put faith in Torres, and this game it paid off. Torres scored two goals in a 4-0 blowout against Ireland making Ireland the first casualty of the Euro Cup. The two spots from Group A are up for grabs between Spain, Italy and Croatia.
Sweden vs. England
England coach Roy Hodgson, still without starting forward Wayne Rooney, started Andy Carroll in his spot, and it paid off. Carroll scored in the 23rd minute to give England a 1-0. In the 49th minute, Glen Johnson scored an own goal to keep Sweden in the game. Sweden then took the lead after a goal from Olof Mellberg. England sub Theo Walcott picked up a cleared ball and fired a shot from 30 yards out passed Andreas Isaksson, whose reaction to the shot looked as though he had an obstructed view. In the 78th minute, Danny Welbeck put the game away from England and dashed Sweden’s hopes of a Euro Cup championship. Sweden became the second casualty of group play.
Ukraine vs. France
The host nation was coming off an upset over Sweden, and France was in need of points to ensure it would make it out of the group. Ukraine was not as successful this time. Jérémy Menez and Yohan Cabaye scored goals in the 53rd and 56th minute, respectively, to give the French three points and tying with England after two matches.