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Greece survive scare in Tbilisi

Saturday, 26 March 2005

[1] UEFA EUR0 2004™ winners Greece recovered from an early setback to defeat Georgia in Tbilisi and make it three successive FIFA World Cup qualifying wins.

Gap closed

[2] Having started their Group 2 campaign with a loss and two draws, Otto Rehhagel's side have now moved to within three points of unbeaten leaders Ukraine. Malkhaz Asatiani had put the home side in front but Michalis Kapsis and Zisis Vryzas swung the game in Greece's favour just before half-time before Stylianos Giannakopoulos wrapped up victory in the second period.

Gogua chance

[3] Georgia began brightly and monopolised possession in the early stages. Their first chance at goal came in the sixth minute when midfield player Gogita Gogua tried his luck from long range, but it was easy for Greece goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis to claim. A minute later, Shota Arveladze sent a shot high and wide from a tight angle.

Charisteas close

[4] It took ten minutes for Greece to spark into life, when AFC Ajax striker Angelos Charisteas got on the end of strike partner Vryzas' low cross from the left but his toe-poked effort was pushed around the post by Giorgi Lomaia. Georgia were not on the defensive for too long, however, and few were surprised when they opened the scoring in the 22nd minute.

Two quick goals

[5] Unchallenged, Gogua was allowed to fire in a shot from 25 metres and his speculative drive seemed to catch Nikopolidis off guard. The Olympiacos CFP goalkeeper spilled the ball straight to Asatiani, who made no mistake. The home side were in control until Kapsis struck a right-foot volley out of nowhere to bring the Greeks back into the contest. Two minutes later and a neat move involving Kapsis and Giannakopoulos finished with Vyrzas heading in.

Too late

[6] The second half was a story of Greek domination. The decisive third finally came in the 53rd minute when Giannakopoulos was on hand to score after Theodoros Zagorakis's deep cross was parried into his path by Lomaia. Alain Giresse introduced Alexander Iashvili on the hour mark and the SC Freiburg man had a chance to pull one back with ten minutes to go, only to miss with the goal gaping.

Revenge wanted

[7] Greece are next in action in Athens on Wednesday when they will hope to take revenge on Albania after their 2-1 defeat by their rivals last September. Georgia are at home the same night against Turkey.

Zisis Vryzas (right) celebrates with team-mates after his scoring

Georgia's Zurab Khizanishvili (left) vies with Zisis Vryzas