Late rally puts 2004 champ Greece into Euro 2012
Greece reached its third straight European Championship on
Tuesday after substitute Giorgos Fotakis and veteran Angelos
Charisteas scored late goals to secure a 2-1 win over Georgia in
their final qualifier.
Fotakis blasted an equalizer past Georgia goalkeeper Nukri
Revishvili from outside the area in the 79th minute and Charisteas
added the winner six minutes later.
The 2004 champions won Group F ahead with 24 points, two better
than Croatia which beat Latvia 2-0 to secure at least a spot in
next month’s playoff. A draw would have been enough to put Greece
through to next year’s tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
Greece ensured its place despite David Targamadze putting the
Georgians ahead after 19 minutes at the Mikheil Meskhi stadium. The
Georgia striker’s pinpoint free kick bounced past Greek goalkeeper
Alexandros Tzorvas into goal.
The Greeks, missing five key players through injury and
suspensions, lacked imagination and were unable to dent Georgia’s
defense with defender Nikos Spyropoulos clearing off the line in
”We nearly saw 18 months of hard work slip away so it was a big
deal for us to come back and win,” Greece midfielder Kostas
The game turned in Greece’s favor when the hosts lost Targamadze
to injury in the second half. Coach Temuri Ketsbaia had already
made all three substitutions to leave his team struggling with 10
men for the last 20 minutes.
”It was a strange game, and luck was on our side,” said Greece
coach Fernando Santos, whose unbeaten run since taking over after
last year’s World Cup reached 16 games. ”But overall, I think we
deserved to qualify.”
Georgia coach Temuri Ketsbaia believed his team would have come
at least come away with points if Targamadze hadn’t exited.
”We should have got something more out of this game,” Ketsbaia
said. ”It’s disappointing for us, but Greece deserved to qualify.
They beat Croatia, who were the favorites, so they didn’t win the
group by luck.”
Georgia: Nukri Revishvili, Shota Grigalashvili (Aleksander
Iashvili, 51), Guram Kashia, Kakha Kaladze, Aleksandr
Amisulashvili, Zurab Khizanishvili, Otar Martsvaladze, Jaba Kankava
(Ucha Lobzhanidze, 41), Levan Mchedlidze (Alexander Gurili, 66),
Levan Kobiashvili, David Targamadze.
Greece: Alexandros Tzorvas, Nikos Spyropoulos, Alexandros
Tziolis (Giorgos Fotakis, 56), Angelos Charisteas, Giorgos
Karagounis, Loukas Vyntra, Dimitris Salpingidis (Stephanos
Athanasiadis, 68), Fanis Gekas (Panagiotis Kone, 90), Sokratis
Papastathopoulos, Costas Katsouranis, Kyriakos Papadopoulos.