Tyton takes his place among Polish gods

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Poland 1 Greece 1: Penalty save gives hosts a valuable point against Greeks in dramatic opening match

The National Stadium

How's this for a first touch? Przemyslaw Tyton, the PSV Eindhoven goalkeeper, replaces the sent-off Wojciech Szczesny of Arsenal and immediately faces a penalty taken by Giorgos Karagounis, the captain of Greece. He dives to his left and saves. The roar almost takes the roof off Poland's new National Stadium.

The joint hosts took the lead through a raging header from Robert Lewandowski and looked certain to take command when Sokratis Papastathopoulos became the first of two players dismissed by Carlos Velasco Carballo. This was just before half-time. But Greece equalised within six minutes of the resumption after a mix-up involving Szczesny and suddenly the face of events was changed, even more so when Szezcsny tripped Greece's scorer, the substitute Dimitris Salpingidis, leaving the referee no option but the spot and red card.

It might have been worse for Poland, because the offside call that denied Salpingidis later was dubious. But they survived and will hope to put on another show against Russia on Tuesday.

Even those of us who tend to regard an opening ceremony in much the same way as toothache, there being only degrees of awfulness, found it hard not to enjoy elements of Warsaw's effort, especially the coming together of human petals to make a flower.

Every Pole in the crown-shaped stadium seemed to be belting out the national anthem, even the allegedly plastic ones amid the line of players to whom Jan Tomaszewski, the Wembley hero of old, had so scathingly referred in the tournament build-up.

There was an encouraging start, too, when Rafal Murawski tried a gentle chip that Kostas Chalkias had to move smartly to touch over. The momentum kept building and Lukasz Piszczek, after marauding down the right, missed the head of his Borussia Dortmund clubmate Lewandowski by inches in the goalmouth. It proved a sign of the wonderful thing to come: a header by Lewandowski of such power and accomplishment that the goalkeeper's accurate guess was futile.

This time the cross was from Jakub Blaszczykowski, and from wider on the right, but Lewandowski had bet on a fine delivery from his other Dortmund colleague and knew exactly what to do, nodding it downwards so that the ball bounced under Chalkias's dive, its velocity making light of a range of 12 yards. Little over a quarter of an hour had gone and the tournament had the boost it needed. The crowd exploded.

Poland remained dangerous, probing at error-prone Greek defenders who were lucky that Damien Perquis screwed an excellent chance wide. But soon afterwards Papastathopoulos, having earlier incurred a rather harsh yellow card after an aerial challenge, saw a thoroughly merited second for barging Murawski over.

The Greeks were further dismayed by the referee's inability to discern intent in the grounded Perquis's brushing of an arm against the ball in the penalty area – it appeared a good decision given that the defender had his back to the ball – and then a yellow card shown to José Holebas. Greece were not only trailing and a man down but losing composure. At least the interval, at which Sotiris Ninis was replaced by Salpingidis, came at a good time for them.

Poland's job now was simply to coax them out of a 4-4-1 formation. Or so it seemed. The joint hosts also had to be careful in defending their goal and this they failed to do only six minutes into the second half when Szczesny hurtled impetuously off his line in response to a near-post cross from Vassilis Torossidis and appeared to succeed only in distracting Marcin Wasilewski, the defender stumbling over the ball and falling so that, with Szczesny also prone, Salpingidis had little difficulty in prodding it into the net. Had there been a call that Wasilewski did not hear? Amid the din, it was possible. And the drama had only begun.

Booked: Greece Papastathopoulos (twice), Holebas, Karagounis.

Sent off: Poland Szczesny (69). Greece Papastathopoulos (44)

Man of the match Tyton

Match rating 8/10

Poss: Pol 59% Gre 41%

Attempts on target: Pol 5 Gre 1

Referee C B Carballo (Sp)

Attendance 56,826

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...