Clueless Greece held to goalless draw by Estonia
FIFA WORLD CUP QUALIFYING - GROUP H (MATCHDAY 7)
|Greece||0 - 0||Estonia|
Greece’s bid to reach the 2018 World Cup suffered a minor setback on Thursday as they were held to a goalless draw by Estonia in a disappointing Group H match at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium in Athens.
Without injured star striker Kostas Mitroglou, the Greeks huffed and puffed but found it hard to break through a determined Estonia team who had clearly set the stall out to come and get a draw.
The result was made all the more disappointing due to the fact Greece could not take advantage of Cyprus’ sensational 3-2 comeback win over Bosnia and Herzgovina, who are Greece’s main rivals for second place.
Following tonight’s results, and with three matches still to play, Greece have 13 points and hold on to second spot with a slender two-point advantage over third-placed Bosnia, who have 11 points.
Michael Skibbe’s Greece team, who ran out comfortable 2-0 winners in Tallinn back in October, began positively, with striker Apostolos Vellios drawing a fine save from Estonia goalkeeper Mihkel Aksalu in the fourth minute.
Although they dominated possession, Greece did not conjure up another chance until two came in quick succession in the 28th minute and half-hour mark, with Kostas Fortounis involved in both.
First, the Olympiacos man’s dangerous free-kick was met by Petros Mantalos, whose header was blocked by Aksalu. And Fortounis then sent over a corner which was half-cleared to Tasos Donis, who fired his shot just wide.
Vellios then missed a great chance to make it 1-0 on the stroke of half-time when he shot wide from an acute angle.
There was little threat coming from the opposite end with the Estonians seemingly content with sitting back and soaking up the pressure while trying to hit the hosts with a surprise on the counter attack.
The second half saw much of the same pattern of play with Fortounis the danger man for Greece as the home side dominated possession but without seriously hurting their opponents.
And although Vellios battled manfully and chased every ball up front, the home side simply did not carry the same threat without Mitroglou as the spearhead and the game ended goalless.
Greece will now look to their next home match against group leaders Belgium on Sunday knowing that a vast improvement is needed if they are to avoid defeat to the team that hammered Gibraltar by an astonishing 9-0 tonight.