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Tsiartas revives Greek hopes

Saturday, 9 October 2004

[1] Substitute Vassilios Tsiartas's stunning free-kick nine minutes from time revived Greece's FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign as the European champions came from behind to earn a crucial Group 2 point against Ukraine at the Olyimpiyskiy stadium.

Shevchenko opener

[2] Andriy Shevchenko had put the home side ahead three minutes into the second half in a game Ukraine largely dominated, but Tsiartas hit back from 30 metres to keep Greece in touch with the early leaders.

Dellas back

[3] Ukraine coach Oleh Blokhin made four changes from the side that beat Kazakhstan last month, Shevchenko, Serhiy Fedorov, Oleh Shelayev and Andriy Voronin all coming in, while Greece coach Otto Rehhagel welcomed back defender Traianos Dellas.

Ukraine press

[4] Greece were looking to put a slow start behind them after losing to Albania and drawing with Turkey, but it was Ukraine that made the early running. On ten minutes Shevchenko drew the first save from Nikopolidis and the striker came close again soon after, just failing to meet Andriy Vorobey's flick on.

Seitaridis threatens

[5] Greece's best attacking threat came from the runs of Giourkas Seitaridis down the right, but Rehhagel's side were restricted largely to half-chances, Georgios Karagounis shooting wide on 19 minutes.

Nikopolidis saves

[6] Ukraine were looking most dangerous, but Nikopolidis was in superb form. On 28 minutes he tipped Voronin's low shot away, then dove to keep out Oleh Gusev's stinging strike. But it was Greece that should have gone into the break in front when on 38 minutes Dellas picked out Stylianos Giannakopoulos, but unmarked the midfield player headed straight at Olexandr Shovkovskiy.

Shevchenko strikes

[7] Nikopolidis had kept his side in the match in the first half, but his fine work was undone three minutes into the second when he allowed Shevchenko's innocuous free-kick from the touchline to bounce off the slippery surface and squirm under his body.

Bad blow

[8] It was an awful blow for Greece who were fortunate not to fall further behind. On 56 minutes Dellas's block kept out Voronin's strike, then Nikopolidis turned away Andriy Rusol's diving header.

Tsiartias levels

[9] Striker Angelos Charisteas came on for Giannakopoulos but Greece were struggling to make any headway, until Tsiartas stepped up to earn his side a point in stunning fashion on 81 minutes. Greece may still be looking for their first win after three matches, but they will take on Kazakhstan with renewed heart next month after claiming this point. Ukraine are next in action on Wednesday at home against Georgia.

Stelios Giannakopoulus of Greece with Serhiy Fedorov