Saved By The Bell

Out go the holders, then, and one suspects that few people are going to miss them that much. Greece’s defeat by Russia yesterday evening was one of the more mediocre matches of the tournament so far, enlivened only by a horrific mistake by the Greek goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis allowed Konstantin Zyryanov to prod the ball over the line for the only goal of the match. The result was just as good for Russia. They haven’t got through the group stages of a major tournament since the collapse of the Soviet Union almost twenty years ago, but they have a chance to, now. A win against Sweden in their final group match will be enough to put them through to the next round. Sweden, meanwhile, pushed Spain all the way before falling to a late, late goal by David Villa yesterday evening. The Spain vs Sweden was the better of last night’s two matches. Spain started the stronger of the two sides and took the lead after fifteen minutes when Fernando Torres scored from close range, but things took a turn for the worse for them ten minutes later, when they lost defender Carlos Puyol to injury. Without Puyol’s influence at the back, Spain’s defence began to look more more and more strained, and Sweden started to get back into the game. They brought things level ten minutes from half...

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