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Russia, Poland play to draw

13 June 2012, 07:09

 Warsaw, Poland - Russia stayed on course to qualify for the knock-out stages of Euro 2012 but they failed to make it two wins in a row, after old rivals Poland fought back to secure a draw in the capital Warsaw.

Dick Advocaat's side had one foot in the quarter-finals at half-time after Alan Dzagoev headed home his third goal in the competition from an inswinging, 37th minute freekick by Andrei Arshavin.

The Poles levelled the score in the 57th minute when captain Jakub Blaszczkowski slotted home a Ludovic Obraniak cross.

Obraniak was to blot his copybook when he was taken off in the dying minute of the match, shrugging aside coach Frankiszek Smuda's pat on the back and then kicking angrily at a bottle.

In Tuesday's other match in Wroclaw, the Czech Republic kept alive their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals by beating 2004 champions Greece 2-1.

Michal Bilek's side made a dream start, finding the net twice in the opening six minutes through Petr Jiracek and Vaclav Pilar.

Greece threatened to get back into the match seven minutes into the second-half when Czech goalkeeper Petr Cech spilled the ball straight to Fanis Gekas and he tucked the ball away.

In the group, Greece are struggling on just one point; Poland, with two draws, are on two; the Czechs are on three; and Russia on four.

The Russia-Poland match was played amid tight security and a fiercely political backdrop, with both countries' recent and past history intertwined and lingering resentment among the Poles creating an intense sporting rivalry.

Tuesday was also Russia's national day and some 10 000 Russian fans with tickets for the encounter marched to the stadium in what is thought to be the biggest number on Warsaw's streets since World War II ended.

Police used water cannon and tear gas on unruly Polish fans near the stadium before the match, while AFP photographers saw several fans in the area detained, as riot squad officers and vans formed a buffer to keep apart rival supporters.

At least two firecrackers were thrown on the pitch from the Russian fans' end after Dzagoev's goal while a racism monitoring group told AFP they had reported the display of a far-right extremist flag at the Russian end.

Rafal Pankowski, from the Football Against Racism in Europe group, which is backed by European football's governing body, told AFP in a text message that the flag was a "Hitler Youth emblem".

Court officials in Poznan, meanwhile, said that 10 Poland and Croatia football fans have been fined for violence and public order offences and one Irish fan for drunk-driving after the Croatia-Republic of Ireland Group C match on Sunday.

Among those fined was a Croatian fan, who ran onto the pitch and kissed coach Slaven Bilic, as his side ran out 3-1 winners against the Irish.

UEFA said separately that its Control and Disciplinary Committee would discuss any penalties for the Croatian football federation on Friday, after fans let off flares and smoke bombs during the match.

The organisation also said they were investigating claims that Italy's Mario Balotelli was racially abused by Spain fans, during the two side's match in Gdansk, northern Poland, on Sunday.

Italy coach Cesare Prandelli had categorically denied claims in the British media that the 21-year-old Manchester City striker, who is of Ghanaian descent, was taunted with monkey chants during the game.



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