Posted: Friday June 8, 2012 2:14PM ; Updated: Friday June 8, 2012 4:59PM

Greece, Poland play to 1-1 draw in opening match of Euro 2012

Story Highlights

Robert Lewandowski gave Poland a 1-0 lead with a header in the 17th minute

Substitute Greek striker Dimitris Salpigidis scored in the 51st minute to tie match

Both Greece and Poland finished game with 10 men after drawing red cards

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Striker Robert Lewandowski heads the first score of Euro 2012 into the net in the 17th minute of Friday's 1-1 draw with Greece.
Striker Robert Lewandowski heads the first score of Euro 2012 into the net in the 17th minute of Friday's 1-1 draw with Greece.
AP
Poland
Poland1
Greece
Greece1
Final
Lewandowski 17'
Salpingidis 51'

WARSAW, Poland (AP) -- Greece missed its chance for a stunning comeback victory, botching a penalty kick, then hanging on for a 1-1 draw with co-host Poland in the opening match of the European Championship on Friday.

Both teams had players expelled, including Polish goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

Shortly after substitute Dimitris Salpigidis equalized for Greece by knocking in a loose ball in the 51st minute, the diminutive striker was taken down by Szczesny in the area. Szczesny was given a red card, and captain Giorgos Karagounis was given the chance to again give Greece an opening match win against the host. Eight years ago, Karagounis scored in the opening 2-1 win over host Portugal.

His shot, however, was saved by replacement goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton, whose first touch of the ball salvaged a point for the Poles in Group A.

"We're not happy because in the end we could have won it," Salpigidis said. "We were left with 10 men but we came back strong."

Salpigidis came on at halftime, a gamble by Greece coach Fernando Santos to leave three attackers on the field after the loss of both central defenders in the first half: Sokratis Papastathopoulos to a red card after a pair of yellows, and Avraam Papadopoulos to injury.

But Salpigidis didn't disappoint.

WILSON: Greece finds rhythm from sense of injustice

Greece midfielder Vassilis Torosidis, who dropped back into central defense after the ejection of Papastathopoulos, crossed the ball into the center for Fanis Gekas.

Gekas and Poland defender Marcin Wasilewski collided and Szczesny jumped for the ball, but failed to clear it. That left the loose ball sitting patiently as Salpigidis ran in to knock it home.

Poland controlled the play in the first half, exploiting the right side on the field and eventually taking the lead in the 17th minute.

Two of the Borussia Dortmund trio that work on the right side set up the goal. Midfielder Jakub Blaszczykowski crossed the ball into the center for Robert Lewandowski, and the striker calmly headed the ball into the ground and under the charging Costas Chalkias.

"We dominated the first half and we could have scored a couple more goals. The second half was something totally different," Poland defender Lukasz Piszczek said. "Greece stood up well against us despite playing with 10 men. We had trouble stopping the long ball and it cost us the first goal and then the penalty."

After beating Portugal in the opening match of Euro 2004, the Greeks then beat the Portuguese again in the final to win their only major title. They can only hope this start will result in a similar finish.

Copyright 2012 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

 
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