Greece beats Malta 3-1 in Euro qualifier
Yiannis Fetfatzidis scored twice and Kyriakos Papadopoulos added
a goal on his international debut to help visiting Greece beat
Malta 3-1 and climb to the top of Group F in 2012 European
Championship qualifying on Saturday.
Michael Mifsud scored Malta’s lone goal.
Greece was one point ahead of both Croatia and Israel. It next
travels to Israel on Sept. 2.
Greece went ahead in the 8th minute with a swift passing
exchange. Nikos Spyropoulos stole the ball in midfield and sent a
long pass to Sotiris Ninis. He, in turn, passed forward to
Katsouranis who ran toward the byline and cut back to Fetfatzidis
who was left unmarked near the penalty spot.
Greece, which beat Malta 1-0 with an injury-time goal, kept the
pressure up and missed several chances. In the 24th, Dimitris
Salpingidis scored but his goal was, rightly, disallowed for
offside. But, two minutes later, Greece gained a free kick.
Greece’s oldest player, 35-year-old Giorgos Karagounis, who earned
his 106th cap, sent the ball to Papadopoulos, making his national
debut at 19, and the defender headed in from point-blank range.
Greece appeared unexpectedly sluggish in the second half and
Malta made them pay in 54th when Bajada passed the ball to an
unmarked Mifsud who sent it to the net.
Six minutes later, Malta nearly equalized, when Andrew Cohen,
seconds after coming in for Daniel Bogdanovic, sent a powerful shot
from outside the area crashing into the right post.
The spectators, who had been cheering Greece in the first half,
started loudly voicing their displeasure and whistling. This did
not last long, as Greece scored, rather unexpectedly, in the
An exchange of passes found Dimitris Salpingidis just inside the
area, on the right. Without a clear line to goal he crossed to no
one in particular. But Hogg, surrounded by four of his defenders,
chose to dive and parry the ball out of their reach and
Fetfatzidis, who was in the area, pounced to tap the ball in.
”We dominated the first 30 minutes and could have scored more
than two goals,” Greece coach Fernando Santos said. ”After the
35th minute, my players started running aimlessly and out of
position. We explained to them what to correct at halftime but,
unexpectedly, they came out even looser in the second half and
Malta started to believe. We could have avoided these bad 20
Greece: Dimitris Constantopoulos, Nikos Spyropoulos, Vangelis
Moras, Alexandros Tziolis, Giorgos Karagounis (Pantelis Kafes, 70),
Dimitris Salpingidis (Costas Mitroglou, 90), Vassilis Torossidis,
Sotiris Ninis (Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, 79), Costas Katsouranis,
Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Yiannis Fetfatzidis.
Malta: Andrew Hogg, Jonathan Caruana, Gareth Sciberras, Andre
Agius, Ryan Fenech, Daniel Bogdanovic (Andrew Cohen, 59), Roderick
Briffa, Michael Mifsud, John Hutchinson (Paul Fenech, 87), Andre
Schembri, Shaun Bajada (Clayton Failla, 80).