Warsaw, Poland • Greece surged into the European Championship quarterfinals, defeating Russia 1 0 Saturday on a goal by Giorgos Karagounis just before halftime.
Karagounis, making his team record tying 120th international appearance, sent a low shot under goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev with the final touch of the first half.
This is a great night for all Greeks,” Karagounis said. “we cannot describe how we feel.
Even as the Greeks closed down in front of their net, Karagounis looked to have won a penalty kick when Sergei Ignashevich appeared to bring him down in the area.
But Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson instead booked the Greece captain for a dive, meaning he will miss the quarterfinals.
“We are proud that we gave the people back home some joy and a break from their problems — even for a short while,” Greece striker Georgios Samaras said.
“We did very well defensively, but the will we had was the main thing. That stopped them from scoring goals.”.
Russia, a semifinalist four years ago, was the overwhelming choice going into the match at the National Stadium, but it was again guilty of squandering chances.
The Russians finished the match with 25 shots on goal, while Greece managed only five.
“We should have won by a wide margin tonight, but we didn’t. our compliments to Greece,” Russia coach Dick Advocaat said.
The Russians became one of the tournament favorites with their 4 1 win over the Czech Republic in their opening match, then drew with Poland and finally lost to Greece, snapping a 16 match unbeaten run.
It lost its second match, 2 1, to the Czech Republic.
Russian players dejectedly tramped off the field immediately after the final whistle, while Greece’s euphoric players hugged one another and then celebrated with their fans.
Giorgos Tzavelas nearly gave Greece a two goal cushion when he curled a free kick over the Russian wall in the 70th minute, but saw the ball slam against the top of the goalpost.
Michalis Sifakis then ensured his team would advance when he saved a close range shot by substitute Pavel Pogrebnyak in second half injury time.
But even as the team laid siege to the Greek goal it was largely restricted to long range efforts after the break as it went after the equalizer.
Russia forward Alan Dzagoyev came close in the 84th minute with a glancing header off a cross from Andrei Arshavin, but the ball drifted just wide.
Greece, knowing it needed a win to progress after a draw and a loss, started the match with a defensive setup aimed at stifling Russia’s passing game in the midfield.
As the minutes ticked off, Greek fans sang the national anthem and the Russians lit off flares before walking out of the stadium.
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