Greece beats Israel 2-1 in Euro 2012 qualifier
Dimitris Salpigidis and Giorgos Karagounis scored a goal in each half to help Greece beat Israel 2-1 Tuesday in a 2012 European Championship qualifier.
The Greeks recovered from a nervous start to earn their second straight home win in Group F.
Salpigidis put the Greeks ahead in the 22nd, cutting through the Israeli defense after a pass by Pantelis Kafes. He managed to beat goalkeeper Dudu Aouate as he tumbled to the ground.
Israel's equalizer came in the 59th when Etey Shecther connected with a pass from Roberto Colautti and the ball came off Greece defender Nikos Spyropoulos for an own goal.
Karagounis clinched the winner with a penalty four minutes later, after Aouate brought down Salpigidis. Aoute angrily denied he had committed a foul.
''We made a mistake and let the Israelis create chances. But in the end it's the result that matters. We got the three points we wanted,'' Greece defender Avraam Papadopoulos said.
''We have a lot of new players in the team and a lot of talent but we need some time to get used to each other.''
Israel had a penalty claim denied just before the break, and Shecther was booked by Swedish referee Martin Hansson for diving.
''It was a tough and open game but I think, overall the result was fair. We wanted two home wins in a row and that's what we got ... I am happy with the way we kept catching out their defense,'' Greece coach Fernando Santos said.
''After the break, we lost pace and concentration and let the Israelis back in the game. We were a bit unlucky with the goal we suffered, but we scored just a few minutes later - it was definitely a penalty.''
Fans at Karaiskaki stadium booed while the Israeli national anthem was being played before the game. During the match, a small group of protesters chanted ''Free Palestine,'' waved Palestinian flags and unfurled a banner protesting about Israel's treatment of Palestine.
Talented Greece midfielder Sotiris Ninis was injured and carried off in the 15th minute after a heavy tackle by Rami Gerson. But Yiannis Fetfatzidis, his 19-year-old replacement, troubled the visitors all evening, and saw his goal-bound shot in the 54th minute well blocked by Aouate.
A shot from Israel's Roberto Colautti hit the bar in the 64th minute, while Loukas Vyntra should have sealed it for Greece ten minutes later but his weak shot was saved by Aouate.
Israel coach Luis Fenandez refused to comment on the penalty decisions and said his players had time to recover from the team's two successive defeats.
''It's not over. There are many more matches to play,'' he said. ''I am disappointed for my players because they performed well tonight and didn't deserve this.''
He added: ''We both have young teams which are trying to establish themselves. But Greece has a football tradition and won the European Championship (in 2004). Conditions are a little more complicated in Israel.''
Greece: Michalis Sifakis, Loukas Vyntra, Nikos Spyropoulos, Avraam Papadopoulos, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Costas Katsouranis, Giorgos Karagounis, Pantelis Kafes, Sotiris Ninis (Yiannis Fetfatzidis, 15), Georgios Samaras (Costas Mitroglou, 82), Dimitris Salpigidis (Yiannis Maniatis, 89).
Israel: Dudu Aouate, Dekel Keiman, Lior Refaelov, Etey Shecther, Roberto Colautti (Elyamiv Barda, 75), Almog Cohen, Exal Golsa, Dani Bondaru, Bebars Natcho (Gil Vermouth, 63), Tamir Cohen (Elroy Cohen, 69), Rami Gerson.