MEGA leaves behind memorable sporting broadcasts
In late October, the MEGA channel ceased operation on terrestrial television, but the organisation provided the nation with broadcasts of historic Greek sporting events. AGONAsport investigates.
Launched in 1989, MEGA supplied the entire country with live broadcasts of incredible matches, including Greece’s FIFA World Cup qualifications, the feats of Greek clubs on the European stage, and the blowout victory for Olympiacos against Panathinaikos in the 1995/1996 basketball championship final. Let’s take a trip back in time and look at a handful of MEGA’s best broadcasted games:
2010 FIFA World Cup qualification playoffs, Greece - Ukraine - 1:0 (0:0, 1:0)
It was never going to be a an easy ride against Ukraine. Taking into account that the Ukrainians had the likes of Andrey Shevchenko, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Artyom Milevskiy in their squad, it promised to be a tough test for Greece, and a tense first leg finished 0:0 at the Olympic Stadium in Athens. Theofanis Gekas had a goal controversially ruled out for offside in the opening half.
The first goal was always going to be crucial in the second game in Donetsk, and after 31 minutes of play, diminutive forward Dimitris Salpingidis escaped the Ukrainian defence and slipped the ball under the onrushing goalkeeper. Greece calmly kept Ukraine at bay and achieved an historic qualification for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
2014 FIFA World Cup qualification playoffs, Greece - Romania - 4:2 (3:1, 1:1)
For the third time in history, the Greek national football team qualified for the FIFA World Cup, defeating a strong Romania side 4:2 on aggregate for the tournament in Brazil. As we know, the Ethniki Omada impressed in the competition, reaching the Last 16 in dramatic fashion.
In the playoffs to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, Greece took on Romania, winning the first leg 3:1 with two goals from Konstantinos Mitroglou accompanying a Dimitris Salpingidis’ marker. Initially, the Romanians pulled level through Bogdan Stancu after an early Mitroglou marker, but the Greeks showed their mettle to earn a 3:1 advantage in Piraeus ahead of the return in Bucharest.
In the 23rd minute of the return leg, the Ethniki practically finished the tie as a contest, with Mitroglou slotting into the net from close range. Romania grabbed an equaliser after a freak own-goal from Vasilis Torosidis, but despite late pressure, they failed to break down a stubborn Greek defence.
2001/2002 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, Panathinaikos - Barcelona - 1:0
For the first leg of the UEFA Champions League quarter-final stage, Athenian giants Panathinaikos hosted Barcelona at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, picking up a memorable 1:0 victory. The Catalans were the favourites to win in Greece, but Panathinaikos stood their ground, eventually scoring the vital goal from the penalty spot on 79 minutes with Angelos Basinas firing into the net. Panathinaikos lost the second game 1:3 in Spain and exited the competition.
2002/2003 UEFA Champions League group stage, Real Madrid - AEK Athens - 2:2
A match which will live long in the Kitrinomavri fans’ memories. Few expected the Enosi to gain a positive result against the mighty Real Madrid in Spain, but AEK proved the doubters wrong, displaying remarkable character to somehow pinch a 2:2 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu. Two goals from English midfielder Steve McManaman handed Real a 2:0 lead, however the Greeks fought back in the second half, grabbing a dramatic point with Konstantinos Katsouranis and Walter Centeno hitting the target. Incredibly, AEK drew all six matches in Group C and dropped down to the UEFA Cup.
2001/2002 UEFA Champions League group stage, Deportivo - Olympiacos - 2:2
To be honest, it was a miserable UEFA Champions League campaign for Olympiacos in the 2001/2002 season, as the team finished bottom of Group G with a mere five points. On matchday one, Olympiacos made the trip to Spain to play Deportivo, falling behind and then suddenly taking a shock lead with goals from Stelios Giannakopoulos and Peter Ofori-Quaye in the last 10 minutes. The Erythrolefkoi were so close to a previous victory, but in the dying moments of stoppage time, Juan Carlos Valeron popped up with an equaliser for Deportivo.
1997/1998 UEFA Cup first round, Arsenal - PAOK - 1:1
Did anyone really think PAOK would defeat Arsenal over the course of two legs? Probably not. Even after they won the first match 1:0 in Thessaloniki, PAOK were outsiders in the first round of the UEFA Cup against the Gunners, but they had a surprise up their sleeves. Dutch legend Dennis Bergkamp levelled the aggregate score in the first half in London, however with time running down in the second frame, Zisis Vryzas rolled in a superb marker to spark scenes of joy among the PAOK players. The Dikefalos tou Vorra were knocked out by Atletico Madrid in the second phase of the tournament.
1995/1996 Greek basketball championship final, Olympiacos - Panathinaikos - 73:38
In the decisive fifth match of the Greek basketball championship final, Olympiacos welcomed arch-rivals Panathinaikos to the Peace and Friendship Stadium, thrashing the Greens 73:38 in an astounding victory. Considering that Panathinaikos were the European champions and Greek Cup winners, they had high hopes of claiming the domestic title, but the absence of star man Dominique Wilkins took its toll as Olympiacos recorded an unbelievable triumph in Piraeus.