SPORTS

The best offense is defense, for Greece

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Soccer

Greece extended its perfect start to the World Cup qualifiers with a 2-0 win in Tallinn over host Estonia on Monday night. Both of its goals came from defenders.

The players of German coach Michael Skibbe were slightly improved on the home game against Cyprus, that ended with the same score in Greece’s favor. This time the Greeks had to face misfortune as well, as two of its defenders were taken off injured in the first 20 minutes.

Experienced Vassilis Torosidis opened the score through a header just after the first minute of the game, to give the Greeks an early lead. A few minutes later he had to be substituted, as was also the case with Sokratis Pastathathopoulos. Costas Fortounis snd Giorgos Tzavellas missed the game altogether due to injuries.

Even so the Greeks absorbed the pressure of the Estonians who enjoyed possession but lacked quality in finishing. Goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis also contributed with his saves in the second half.

Just after the hour mark Greece earned a free-kick some four meters outside the box, Costas Mitroglou rushed to take it, but Skibbe shouted an order from the bench, which Costas Manolas conveyed to Mitroglou, that Costas Stafylidis should take the kick instead.

The left-footed defender took the kick, and the ball swerved and bounced magnificently into the net for Greece’s second goal, while Stafylidis ran toward the Greece bench pointing at Skibbe. The German has apparently earned the respect and affection of his players,unlike his predecessors.

Stafylidis’s goal was in fact the first second-half goal in this campaign for Greece, after seven first-half goals.

Petros Mantalos tried to make it 3-0 some 11 minutes from time, but his shot hit the upright of Estonia.

Greece now has nine points from three games, level on points with group leader Belgium, and on November 13 it will host Bosnia, victors of Cyprus with a 2-0 score on Monday.

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