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Thousands of Greeks took to the streets Saturday evening to celebrate their national team's surprise 1-0 victory over Russia at Euro 2012.
The win lifted Greece into the quarter-finals of the tournament and brought back memories here of their unexpected accomplishment in 2004 when they won the trophy.
In every major square in the country thousands of Greeks had gathered to watch the match on large television screens and they broke out in loud cheers when veteran captain Giorgos Karagounis scored the only goal late in the first half.
“I thank God for letting us celebrate such moments,” Karagounis told Greek television station ET after the match in Warsaw. “We did not give up. We can compare this to our cherished moments in Portugal in 2004.”
Karagounis, who set a Greek record with his 120th appearance for the national team, will miss the next match after receiving his second yellow card in the tournament after being adjudged to have dived in the box.
“We believed all day that we would not return back to Athens (after the group phase). We kept our promise to all. All Greeks can now celebrate,” Karagounis said.
“When we are united, no one can stop us,” he added.
Seconds before the end of stoppage time in the first half, the 35-year-old midfielder latched onto a throw-in that Russian defender Sergei Ignashevich failed to deal with.
Dodging between the Russian rearguard, he fired a powerful low cross shot past goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeev.
The 4,000 Greek fans in Warsaw's stadium, who up to then had largely been outsung by 20,000 Russians, went wild as Karagounis hit home to put his side through on the head to head rule - both sides ending on four points behind group winners the Czech Republic. - Sapa-AFP