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Greece avenge Albanian upset

Wednesday, 30 March 2005

By Vassiliki Papantonopoulou at Georgios stadium

[1] European champions Greece gained revenge for their 2-1 defeat by Albania in their opening FIFA World Cup qualifying Group 2 match with a victory that kept them comfortably in second place.

Position held

[2] Angelos Charisteas and Georgios Karagounis struck the goals and their team hit the crossbar twice as Greece secured their fourth straight group win. They are still three points behind Ukraine, but two points ahead of Turkey - who Greece visit in a crucial tie on 4 June. Albania, who also lost in Turkey on Saturday, remain fifth.

Kyrgiakos in

[3] Otto Rehhagal made only one change to the Greece team that won in Georgia at the weekend, Sotirios Kyrgiakos moving into central defence for Mihalis Kapsis, who complained of a groin injury hours before kick-off. Tefik Osmani, Devis Mukaj and Suad Lici were brought into the Albania lineup for Armend Dallku, Igli Tare and Adriaj Aliaj.

Early efforts

[4] Greece took control from the start, but Albania defended in numbers. On 12 minutes, Kostas Katsouranis headed an Angelos Basinas corner on to the crossbar, and soon after Karagounis shot wide from distance. Albania's only threats came with long balls towards Erjon Bogdani.

Charisteas scores

[5] On the half-hour, the crossbar again saved Albania, this time from a spectacular Zisis Vryzas volley. Greece's persistence soon paid off, though, as Charisteas headed his third goal of the campaign from a Basinas free-kick.

Vryzas header

[6] Albania stepped up their game in the second half, but never were able to trouble Antonios Nikopolidis in the Greek goal. The home side, meanwhile, almost went 2-0 up in the 57th minute, Vryzas heading just wide.

Further chances

[7] Tare was introduced by Albania coach Hans-Peter Briegel in an attempt to liven their attack, but Vryzas again went close with a header and seconds later Theodoros Zagorakis had a long shot not far off target.

Nerves settled

[8] With nine minutes left, Stylianos Giannakopoulos had a goal disallowed for offside, and Albania then came nearest to equalising, the unmarked Tare heading wide. Suddenly there were Greek nerves, but Karagounis soon settled them with a powerful shot from close range.

Zagorakis suspended

[9] However, one blow for Greece was a booking for captain Zagorakis, who will miss the trip to Turkey through suspension but can return to welcome Ukraine four days later. Albania play Georgia and visit Denmark on the same dates.

Greece's first goalscorer Angelos Charisteas is congratulated by his team-mates