Karagounis: We've reached our goal in emphatic fashion

By George Georgakopoulos

Greece’s players stressed that they got what they deserved, but appeared quite reserved after the game with the Ivory Coast being visibly tired from the historic triumph of the national team that has seen it through to the last 16 of the World Cup.

Captain Giorgos Karagounis stated: “We are all very happy, it was what we had wanted from the start, to advance to the second round. We have achieved that in emphatic fashion, we were the better team throughout the 90 minutes and when you win right at the end, it makes it ever sweeter.

“In the end we got what we deserved and we have made all Greeks proud. Let’s hope we stay here for long, Greece will make this World Cup even more beautiful, as the heart of the Greeks helps us play against the odds and we have done it again after the Euro 2012 with Russia,” said Karagounis.

A sweating and exhausted coach Fernando Santos explained why he opted for leaving center forwards Fanis Gekas and Costas Mitroglou out and choosing Dimitris Salpingidis, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Giorgos Samaras in attack: “We thought it would be a good idea to play with three highly mobile strikers up front and Samaras has played at the edge of the attack several times at Celtic.” He added that “we obviously want to march along in the competition.”

Salpingidis appeared very collected after the game and stated: “We have cast the critics aside and fought for our country,” while Samaras said “We have given the Greeks a reason to smile.”

Christodoulopoulos added: “It was an amazing performance by our team. We have shown what we can do on an individual basis and what this can generate when combined into a team.”

Prime Minister Samaras sent a message of congratulations to Santos and the players, while Greece fans started gathering at Omonia Square in central Athens and at the White Tower in downtown Thessaloniki to celebrate a historic triumph, state TV channel NERIT reported.