Greece U19 win qualifying group with super-sub Gaitanidis hat trick
UEFA U19 EURO 2019 QUALIFYING - FIRST ROUND (GROUP 13, MATCHDAY 3)
|Bulgaria||0 - 3||Greece|
|Gaitanidis 65',69', (P) 83'|
Greece U19 topped their respective Euro 2019 qualifying group after downing Bulgaria 3:0 on Tuesday thanks to an Antonios Gaitanidis second-half hat-trick.
After winning their first two qualifying games against Gibraltar (4:0) and Romania (5:3), Greece had secured a place in the next qualifying round for the EURO 2019 championships ahead of Tuesday’s fixture. The Ethniki Neon matched up against the group hosts’, Bulgaria, with only a draw needed to secure first place in group 13.
After a goalless first half where Greece enjoyed the better of possession, Giannis Goumas subbed on Antonios Gaitanidis in the 56th minute and the PAOK man produced a tremendous performance. Just nine minutes after coming on, he took the assist from Lefteris Lyratzis and did well from the back post to open the scoring for the Ethniki Neon. The 18-year old was not done there and four minutes later, a great solo effort and finish saw Greece pull ahead 2:0. The Galanolefki were awarded a penalty in the 83rd minute and the PAOK man stepped up from the spot to record the 18-minute hat-trick as Greece marched on to yet another outstanding victory in Euro 2019 qualifying.
Greece finished the group with a perfect nine points from three matches and will be seeded in Pot 1 for the Elite Round draw, meaning the Ethniki Neon will avoid big-named teams in the second and final qualifying round. Along with Greece, Spain, Italy, and Ireland finished with a perfect record in the first qualifying round and will also be seeded in pot 1. A reminder, on Monday, Cyprus’ U19 squad also qualified for the Elite Round after defeating Latvia 1:0 on the final matchday.
After the match, coach Giannis Goumas praised his players and stated they can compete with any team in Europe at this age level. He also made a call to action to all club managers to give these players time on the pitch, because they house true talent and deserve to play at the club level.
In the other group match, Romania thrashed Gibraltar 8:0, which saw them pull ahead of Bulgaria in the standings (better goal differential) and claim second place with four points. Greece’s neighbors to the north finished third in the group with four points while Gibraltar rounded up the group with zero points.