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Sunday, June 10, 2012

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Double trouble: Russia's Alan Dzagoev (17) scores past Czech Republic goalkeeper Peter Cech in the second half of their match at Euro 2012 on Friday in Wroclaw, Poland. Russia won 4-1. AFP-JIJI

Dzagoev, Russia blitz Czech Republic; Greece holds Poland


WROCLAW, Poland — Alan Dzagoev was the star of Russia's attacking show Friday, scoring a goal in each half in his team's 4-1 win over the Czech Republic in Group A of the European Championship.

Dzagoev and Roman Shirokov gave Russia a 2-0 halftime lead before Vaclav Pilar pulled one back in the 52nd minute for the Czechs. Dzagoev replied with his second, in the 80th, and substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko added a fourth two minutes later to complete the victory.

Russia, built around a nucleus of players who made a surprise run to the semifinals four years ago, showed it has the potential to go even further in Poland and Ukraine.

If Euro 2012's opening 1-1 draw between Poland and Greece had more drama than quality, the second group match was a feast of fluent, attacking soccer.

Russia coach Dick Advocaat said before the match he only considered his team an outsider for the title, but he may have to revise his opinion after the emphatic victory, although Russia is unlikely to meet many defenses as accommodating as the Czech back four.

Captain Andrei Arshavin, playing on the left wing but drifting all over the field, masterfully directed the Russian attacks with pinpoint passes all night. It was something of a redemption for Arshavin, who struggled for Arsenal this season before a loan move to Zenit St. Petersburg.

After weathering a tough opening 10 minutes, Russia settled into its fluid passing game and tore apart the Czech defense.

Dzagoev, a 21-year-old CSKA Moscow midfielder who had scored only four goals in 20 internationals before Friday, was on hand to knock in a loose ball in the 15th minute. Konstantin Zyryanov floated a cross to the far post and Aleksandr Kerzhakov's ensuing header hit the woodwork before bouncing to Dzagoev.

Dzagoev should have scored again minutes later but blasted his shot wide after Kerzhakov found him in space on the right.

Shirokov made no such mistake in the 24th when he ran onto a diagonal pass from the left by Arshavin and cleverly lifted the ball over Petr Cech's despairing dive for his seventh intentional goal.

After Russian chances early in the second half went off target, the Czechs replied as Pilar beat the offside trap to run onto a pass from Petr Jiracek, get around Vyacheslav Malafeev and slide the ball home in the 52nd minute.

"I collected a through pass from Petr Jiracek and scored, but I'm not happy about the goal because we were comprehensively beaten," Pilar said.

Tyton comes up big


WARSAW — Przemyslaw Tyton got down on one knee at the goal line and collected his thoughts before turning around and making the biggest save of his life.

Coming on cold in the 70th minute after Poland's first-choice goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny was sent off for taking down Dimitris Salpingdis in the box, Tyton punched Giorgos Karagounis' penalty past the post to keep the score level at 1-1 and help cohost Poland salvage a draw Friday in the opening match of the European Championship.

"I didn't expect that things would turn out this way and that I would get a shot to play in the first game," the 25-year-old PSV Eindhoven 'keeper said. "I stepped onto the pitch and thought 'Cool, this is my time to help out the team.' And I'm happy that I could bring some joy to the crowd in the stadium and the people watching at home."

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