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Three thoughts from Greece-Russia

Three thoughts after Greece's 1-0 win over Russia ...

1. Karma defeats luck -- Greece has been desperately unlucky in this Euro. Against Poland, Sokratis Papasthatopoulos was sent off after two highly dubious yellow cards. Avraam Papadopoulos suffered a serious first-half injury. Against Russia, Giorgos Tzavellas was denied by the woodwork, while Giorgos Karagounis was denied what looked like a cast-iron penalty by the referee. Yet, despite all this, Greece is in the quarterfinals. It's not scientific proof that mistakes even themselves out, because they don't. But for a country that's suffering so much right now off the pitch and has endured rotten luck on it, unless you happen to be Polish or Russian, you can't help but be pleased.

2. Chickens come home to roost for Russia -- Russia could and should have wrapped up all three points against Poland, but flagged badly toward the end of the match and seemingly settled for the draw. And, against Greece, they knew a draw would be enough, which may explain why it took a while to get going. When you're the most talented team in the group, that simply can't happen. Or, rather, if you're going to play for the draw, you need to know how to do it and be prepared to do it tactically. And Russia wasn't.

3. Tempting as it may be, this isn't 2004 -- This is not to say that Greece can't go on to win the Euros, just as it did eight years ago. Yes, it's camel-through-the-eye-of-a-needle stuff, but then it happened once before, so you can't rule it out. Rather, the point is that there are only two things Fernando Santos' team has in common with his predecessor, Otto Rehhagel. One is the veteran Karagouins. The other is the gritty never-say-die, seat-of-the-pants intensity which seemingly keeps the team in every game. But there are many more things which are different, starting with the fact that, rather than shutting up shop and waiting for a set piece or a counterattack, this Greek team goes out to play.

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