Posted on: 28/Mar/2011
TA'QALI, Malta (AP) - Greece moved atop its European Championship qualifying group with a 1-0 injury-time win over Malta on Saturday.
It appeared Greece was set for a goalless draw after being continually frustrated by Malta's massed defence, and when Sokratis Papastathopoulos was sent off for scything Malta captain Michael Mifsud with six minutes remaining it appeared as though Greece's ill-discipline would cost it dear.
Deep into injury time though, Fernando Santos' team had one more chance from a free kick, and when Malta failed to clear Yiorgos Karagounis' set piece, Vassilis Torossidis headed in from close range.
Greece was top of Group F with 11 points, Croatia was a point behind and Georgia was on nine.
From the start Malta packed the midfield to frustrate Greece. Yiorgos Samaras was Greece's main threat and he and Sotiris Ninis both had early shots blocked.
Torossidis had the best chance in the opening exchanges, but his cross shot pulled wide.
Dimitris Salpingidis went close with an overhead kick in the 25th and was then closed down by Malta goalkeeper Justin Haber after he got past Jonathan Caruana.
In the 54th Greece twice came close with headers.
First, Torossidis had his tipped away for a corner by Haber, and then from the corner Nikos Liberopoulos headed Ninis' cross against the bar.
Malta broke away and wasted its best chance when Daniel Bogdanovic dithered with only Greek 'keeper Alexandros Tzorvas to beat and the Greece defence got back to clear.
Haber kept his side in the match again in the 66th when he smothered Samaras' cross with Liberopoulos ready to strike. A minute later Samaras sent another header wide, while Mifsud forced Tzorvas into a low save with a sharp shot.
As the match came to a close Greece's nerves began to show, but Karagounis used his experience to keep his side focused after Papastathopoulos' red card, and then set up Torossidis for the winner.
«« Let's get back to the News Overview