CH12 is back in business and back to even at 8 and 8 through the first two rounds of group play. Russia deserved this win and should have won by a bigger margin if only Pavluchenko, who is still my man of the match for Russia, hadn’t been personally wasteful on his strikes and selfish in turning off his peripheral vision when he had open teammates. Still, it was entertaining in spots especially with the Greeks falling behind in the first half and being forced to play more offensive football.
The buildup to the goal involved some really nice touches on the ball before the cross from Bilyaletdinov drew the Greek goalie, Nikopolidis, away from his goal and stranded once Semak hooked the ball back for Zurianov to tap into an open goal. One lapse in judgment and that was it.
A funny moment on the goal. If you see the replay in slow motion, you will see defender Aniukov (#22) turn and scream at Bilyaletdinov, for overshooting him on the cross into the box, while starting his run back to his own half. Too bad we didn’t see his face (he’s the one in the middle of the box running back towards the Russian half with his hands up at his sides) when he turned to see the ball in the back of the net courtesy of Semak and Zurianov.
Pre-game prediction: Russia 2 Greece 1
Result: Russia 1 Greece 0
Scorer: Konstantin Zurianov (Russia)
On to the last round of games. Remember that both sets of group games in this last round are played at the same time so as not to give any team the advantage in knowing what outcome they have to get to qualify for the quarterfinals. Portugal, Croatia, Holland and Spain are through to the quarterfinals having qualified in first place already. Let’s see who joins them in the next round…