Estonia the Chances...Greece the 3 Points!
FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING - GROUP H (MATCHDAY 3)
|Estonia||0 - 2||Greece|
Greece continued their perfect record in World cup Qualifying! The Galanolefki came away with a difficult 0-2 victory with goals from Torosidis (65 seconds into play) and a clever free-kick from Kostas Stafylidis in the 61st minute. Estonia was the side that controlled the possession and created most of the chances in the game, but Greece proved more effective in converting their opportunities into goals. Greece’s next match will be a “derby” when they host Bosnia in November.
Greece began with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Karnezis (GK), Torosidis (RB), Manolas (CB), Papastathopoulos (CB), Stafylidis (LB), Maniatis (CDM), K. Papadopoulos (CDM), Bakasetas (RM), Mantalos (CAM), Karelis (LM), and Mitroglou (CF).
Our National Team could not have asked for a better start. Sixty five seconds into play, Mantalos’ corner was turned in by a well-placed header from Torosidis to give Greece the early 0-1 lead in Estonia. Although the goal took the pressure off the Galanolefki, two injuries within the first 18 minutes (Papastathopoulos and Torosidis) seemed to rattle Greece for the rest of the half. Papastathopoulos was taken off for Tachtsidis (moved K. Papadopoulos to centerback) and the goal scorer, Torosidis, was replaced by Oikonomou (K. Papadopoulos moved to right back). Sloppy and unconfident play from Greece gave Estonia most of the possession in the half as the home side pressed on for a equalizer. The Greek defense stepped up to the task at hand and cleared the many crosses that came in from the wings, holding onto their advantage at halftime.
Greece did not show much improvement in the second half with Estonia continuing to control the possession. But it was Greece who found the all important second goal when Stafylidis’ clever free-kick curled around the wall to find the back of the net, giving Greece the 0-2 advantage. With the comfortable lead, Greece sat back as Estonia continued their pressure and tested Karnezis on multiple occasions. Karnezis was at the right place at the right time to deny Estonia the goal that would get the hosts back into the game. In the 79th minute, against the run of play, Mantalos’ shot was inches away from giving Greece their third goal on the night, but the crossbar denied the AEK player. In the final 10 minutes, Estonia continued their heavy pressure with Greece holding on to their 0-2 victory and their perfect record in Group H.
Today’s difficult victory shows that the Greek National Team is back on track to contest a place at another major tournament. The win not only comes away from home, but with many injuries in the line-up, including Tzavellas, Samaris, and Fortounis while the two leaders of the National Team, Torosidis and Papastathopoulos, were both knocked out early in today’s match. The overall performance in Estonia was not the best, but the three points in qualifying is what will count at the end of the day.
With today’s result, Greece remains one of only 3 teams that have won their first 3 qualifiers along with Belgium (defeated Gibraltar 0-6) and Switzerland. Greece sits atop of Group H with Belgium before their first big clash when they host Bosnia in November. The Bosnians, who are Greece’s main opponents for second in the group, defeated Cyprus 2-0 with two second half goals.