Russia and Greece break even

Russia have been held to a 1-1 draw against Greece as Dick Advocaat’s men continue their preparations for next summer’s Euro 2012 Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

While eight teams had to slug it out to qualify for the Euro 2012 finals through the play-offs, Dick Advocaat’s men were able to enjoy the luxury of a friendly against Greece, safe in the knowledge that they had already booked their passage to Poland and Ukraine.

Had they been playing Greece ‘in anger’, Russia would have got off to the perfect start, as they took the lead after only two minutes.

Roman Shirokov was on the receiving end of an excellent pass from Alan Dzagoev, and the Zenit St Petersburg midfielder did the rest to put his side into the lead with the help of a deflection.

The hosts responded well and had the ball in the back of the net twice in the first 45 minutes. However Greece’s inability to stay onside proved to be their downfall, as both goals were disallowed for offside, allowing Russia to go into the break with a 1-0 lead.

The visitors took their foot off the gas in the second half, as Greece enjoyed the majority of possession. Nevertheless, Russia looked more than in control and did not seem to be playing to the maximum of their potential.

However, Greece’s pressure finally paid dividends, as Kostas Katsouranis equalized for the home side on the hour mark.

The Greeks looked all the more dangerous as their opponents appeared content to sit back and defend, and they were inches away from taking the lead with just 20 minutes to go, but Fanis Gekas’s shot hit the woodwork.

Consequently, 1-1 was how it finished and Russia’s keeper, Vyacheslav Malafeev, said it was a positive result for his side.

“I think we played well in both halves but we must give credit to our opponents as well as they played very aggressively and created plenty of scoring opportunities. To me it seems that we were evenly matched with the score resembling just that and I’m glad that both teams are in a good mood after this match,” he said.

Greece looked dangerous, but despite the home advantage, they never really got close to beating the Russians.

Russia will now have a break of around three months before they play their next friendly game, but the signs are positive going into next year’s Euro 2012 championships.

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