After the conclusion of the opening ceremonies, Poland started the game with enthusiasm and dominated the early stages of the match. Robert Lewandowski was a constant thorn in the side of the Greek defense, his size and speed creating problems for the overmatched Greek defenders. The Dortmund trio of Lewandowski, Jakub Blaszczykowski, and Lukasz Piszczek ran the show in the first half, and their efforts were rewarded in the 17th minute. Blaszczykowski broke down the left side and floated a cross to Lewandowski on the edge of the area, the Manchester United target made no mistake with the finish and headed home the first goal of Euro 2012.
Full Match Highlights Here
Controversy began in the 35th minute when Sokratis Papastathopoulos was shown a yellow card while going for an aerial challenge against Lewandowski. After attempting to play through an injury he had picked up earlier in the match, Avraam Papadopoulos was substituted for Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos. Damein Perquis squandered an opportunity to make the game 2-0 when he was unable to put an open opportunity on target. Greece's shaky defense continued a few minutes later when Papastathopoulos was sent off for a second soft yellow card. Papastathopoulos appeared to block Rafal Murawski, who was falling down without assistance, and was shocked to turn to see the referee show him a second yellow and a red card.
After the dismissal, the Greeks rallied for the closing moments of the half and were denied a penalty when it appeared that Perquis handled the ball in the penalty area. The ensuing argument led to a yellow card for Greece's Jose Holebas. The halftime whistle mercifully blew a few moments later, giving Greece a temporary reprieve to adjust their tactics and contemplate how they would respond to the Polish attack, the hostile crowd, and from appearances a hostile referee.
Sotiris Ninis was taken off at halftime in favor of Dimitrios Salpingidis and the substitute made his mark immediately on the match. After Wojciech Szczesny failed to claim a cross, the ball fell to the ground where Salpingidis pounced on the opportunity and equalized for Greece. After less than five minutes on the field, the substitute had found the all-important equalizing goal for Greece and the game was turned on its head.
Poland looked shaky after the equalizing goal and for the next twenty minutes, neither team had any real opportunities to score. Another mistake by Wojciech Szczesny gave Greece an opportunity to escape with a win, after the Arsenal keeper fouled Salpingidis in the penalty area and was shown a red card. Following Szczesny's dismissal, Przemyslaw Tyton donned the gloves to face the upcoming penalty from Giorgos Karagounis. The cold keeper warmed up as he strode to the end-line to face the Greek captain. Karagounis fired a penalty low to the keeper's left, but it was met by the waiting hands of Tyton and the keeper parried the penalty aside to be cleared by the Polish defense.
The final twenty minutes of 10 vs 10 football was not nearly as exciting as the preceding 70 minutes and the match finished a draw to the satisfaction of the Greek fans and the disappointment of the Polish home crowd. Despite the controversy and questionable decisions by the referee, it was an entertaining match.