Improved Greece beat Egypt in Zurich
|Egypt||0 - 1||Greece|
A much improved Greece beat World Cup-bound Egypt 1-0 in an entertaining international friendly encounter on Tuesday at the Stadion Letzigrund in Zurich.
Michael Skibbe’s Greek side, who performed poorly in a 1-0 defeat to Switzerland in Athens on Friday, put in a much more assured display tonight and earned a narrow victory thanks to a goal from striker Nikos Karelis.
The victory will somewhat ease the pressure on Greece’s German coach Skibbe, who has come under closer scrutiny following the team’s failure to reach the World Cup in the playoffs last year.
Egypt, who have qualified for Russia 2018, started on the front foot and Greek goalkeeper Andreas Gianniotis had to be at his best to deny Moemen Zakareya in only the sixth minute.
After that scare, though, and in contrast to the match at the Olympic Stadium four days ago, Greece were much more energetic, and fully deserved to go ahead when they did in the 29th minute.
The breakthrough came following a flowing passing move which saw the overlapping AEK Athens right-back Michalis Bakakis send in a precise cross which Karelis headed home emphatically from close-range.
Shortly afterwards Greece had a second “goal” unfairly disallowed after Kostas Stafylidis’ great strike was deemed offside, with replays showing the Swiss referee Fedayi San got his decision wrong.
Egypt boss Hector Cuper fielded an experimental side, introducing nine changes to his starting XI from their recent 2-1 loss to Portugal. This meant that the Egyptians lacked a spark going forward as a result, especially without talisman Mo Salah.
In the second half Greece again showed a willingness to attack and Egypt keeper Mohamed Awwad did well to thwart a dangerous header from Giorgos Tzavellas in the 63rd minute.
Next it was Egypt’s turn to show more attacking threat and they should have drew level just two minutes later when Kahraba beat Greece’s offside trap only to fluff his chance when one on one with Vasilis Barkas at point blank range.
Greece threatened again late on through Tasos Bakasetas, but the AEK Athens midfielder’s long-range free-kick was fisted away by a sprawling Awwad in the Egypt goal.