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Greek players celebrate their 1-0 win at the end of the Euro 2012 soccer championship Group A match between Greece and Russia in Warsaw, Poland, Saturday, June 16, 2012.

Michael Sohn/The Associated Press

A wicked week of stress, tension and soccer ended here on Saturday, with two games, one of vital local importance and one with importance of allegedly global proportions.

It sometimes happens that way - just a couple of soccer games on a Saturday night in Europe, but money and jobs were at stake, and stock markets and banks possibly feeling the effect of the goals scored and chances scorned.

It was important that co-host Poland stay in tournament. All that money spent on stadiums and infrastructure to showcase the country. If Poland itself had to drop out after just three games, then more than the feel-good factor would evaporate. Jobs lost, less money spent on meals, merchandise and beer. Awkward questions being asked about billions spent on an event that turned into a fun time for somebody else.

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Poland is out of the tournament, defeated 0-1 by the Czech Republic.

The co-hosts utterly controlled the first half, but for all the passion, running and attempts at scoring, the key weaknesses in the team was exposed - Poland was not equipped with enough speed in midfield to allow its strikers to take full advantage of scoring chances.

Missed opportunities abounded and the momentum of heartfelt pride was not enough to decide the game. Striker Robert Lewandowsk and captain Blaszczykowski possibly played the game of their lives.

And then, as no goals came, the Czechs seemed to sense that half-chances might result in goals for them, not the Poles.

It was one of those nights, a scrappy game proceeding, but intensely so. Poland riding on the roar of the crowd at times and near-misses seeming more tragic in the heightened atmosphere than they were in reality.

The Czechs relied on cunning and counter-attack until the middle of the second half when Poland tired and seemed in despair. Milan Baros who had done little, beat a defender and passed deftly to Jiracek, who broke Poland's collective heart with the only goal of the game.

Here in Warsaw the city was fraught all day. Following Thursday's clashes between Polish and Russian fans, security was very tight. Hundreds of thousands of locals streamed into the city core to watch

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Poland's game against the Czech Republic on giant screens, the game taking place in Wroclow.

The main security matter seemed to be the protection of Russia's fans as they relaxed in the city centre and made their way to the stadium. I saw a group of four, dressed in traditional Russian costumes, being escorted by security guard through the shopping mall next to the train station. There was mild jeering from a table of Poles at an outdoor cafe but a sharp look from nearby police officers stopped that.

Getting from downtown to the stadium took longer than usual. As each train left the central station, police and soldiers examined every carriage to ensure there were no trouble makers on-board and any Russian fans were near the on-board police officers.

Police helicopters rattled in the sky above the stadium.

There was no sign of trouble, perhaps because Russia and its supporters had felt the sting of something more powerful than the police here - UEFA had already imposed a six-point suspended sentence on Russia following in-stadium violence and abusive chanting the match against the Czech Republic.

Any sign of trouble in or around the stadium here and Russia could pretty much forget a bout qualifying for the next Euro tournament.

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The small contingent of Greece supporters and media had justification for feeling left out of the fuss. This game against Russia had context for Greece too, coming the night before another crucial election there.

Even the financial markets were watching this game closely - some analysts predicted that if Greece won and stayed in the tournament, then the pro-austerity parties were more likely to win. And a global economic crisis averted. A handy side-effect, you might say.

Greece did win. And soundly, defeating a Russian team of vastly talented, deeply experienced players. And that is the most stunning, shock result of this tournament so far.

Greece used the same quiet, defensive determination it used to win Euro 2004, a waiting game relying on corners, free kicks and mistake by opposition to squeeze out a win.

Russia looked like strolling into the quarter-finals until Giorgios Karagounis scored on the cusp of half-time. All it took was a Yuri Zhirkov mistake and Karagounis pounced to fire a low shot into the net,

Greece stays in the Euro, the soccer tournament. Happiness in Athens and who knows what will happen from that? Poland is out of the Euro and Russia collapse. The Czechs do well, unexpectedly. All on a day when the stock markets aren't even open. Always, soccer games mean more than the game itself.

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