Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is never short on confidence. The 22-year-old is one of the world's top young goalkeepers, and he was high on Poland's chances before the start of the European Champinoships.
But Poland and Szczesny stumbled out of the gates on Friday. Their Group A opener against Greece ended in a 1-1 draw, and Szczesny endured a torrid afternoon. Not only was he partly to blame for Greece's goal, he was sent off in an afternoon of disappointment.
Poland dominated the first half in which there was very little for Szczesny to do. The co-host took a 1-0 lead into the break, and held a man advantage after Sokratis was sent off. But the Greeks found an equalizer just five minutes into the second half.
In one of its few attacking moves, Greece worked the ball to the right and sent a cross into the Poland area. A Greek attacker and Polish defender attempted to reach it, but collided with each other instead of playing the ball. Szczesny hesitated for a moment before leaving his line. He arrived at the same time as the two players, and could only flap at the loose ball. Greece forward Dimitrios Salpingidis was first to react, and he pounced and buried his shot to tie the game.
It went from bad to worse for the Arsenal and Poland star. In the 69th minute, Salpingidis ran onto a pass which beat the Poland offside trap. Szczesny raced off his line to cut down the angle, but Salpingidis tried to play the ball around him instead of shooting. The young goalkeeper brought Salpingidis down in the penalty area, and the referee awarded a penalty kick and showed Szczesny a straight red card.
Just when it looked like Greece would score a potential game-winner, backup goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton heroically saved Georgios Karagounis' penalty kick.
Greece and Poland are level in Group A with one point each. Poland will attempt to claw its way out of the wide-open group, but Szczesny must serve a one-game ban. He will be a spectator when his team faces group leader Russia on Tuesday. Should the Poles fall, many will mock the cocky Szczesny's claim that this is the most talented Polish team in a generation. But they can't do it on Twitter, as Szczesny banned himself from the social network.
Review all the action from Friday's games in our Euro 2012 Live Blog.
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