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Greek glee at vital victory

Wednesday, 9 February 2005

[1] European champions Greece surged to second place in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 2 after withstanding a late surge from Denmark to clinch victory and three vital points.

Vital win

[2] Home captain Theodoros Zagorakis and Angelos Basinas struck goals within seven first-half minutes in Piraeus, and that proved enough for a win despite Dennis Rommedahl pulling one back for the visitors just before the break. Greece were fifth at kick-off, but are now only behind leaders Ukraine, who won 2-0 in Albania today and are six points clear.

Bright start

[3] Greece coach Otto Rehhagel employed a 4-3-2-1 formation that gave midfield trio Zagorakis, Basinas and Georgios Karagounis plenty of room. Karagounis twice went close early on, testing Thomas Sørensen with a free-kick and from the resulting corner sending in a strong shot that clipped the left-hand post.

Deadlock broken

[4] The deadlock was broken after 25 minutes when hard-working frontman Zizis Vryzas won a free-kick. Zagorakis struck a speculative quick effort on goal from 25 metres that deflected past the surprised Sørensen off Steven Lustü.

Further goals

[5] Soon after Thomas Gravesen impeded Stylianos Giannakopoulos in the Danish box and Basinas coolly dispatched the penalty. Denmark responded well, though, and pulled one back just before the break as Greece goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis misjudged a Niclas Jensen cross and Rommedahl tapped the ball into an empty net.

Denmark press

[6] Denmark coach Morten Olsen introduced winger Martin Jørgensen in the second half, allowing the visitors to inject some much-needed invention to their play. First Jon Dahl Tomasson's point-blank shot was blocked by Greek defender Kostas Katsouranis before the AC Milan striker saw his measured header tipped superbly round the post by Nikopolidis after a neat run and cross from Jørgensen.

Last chance

[7] Nikopolidis came to rescue again in added time, bravely blocking Rommedahl's close-range effort before Tomasson sent the follow-up over the bar. Denmark now lie fourth in the group, and will hope to beat bottom side Kazakhstan on 26 March, the day Greece visit Georgia.

Greece celebrate breaking the deadlock against Denmark