SPORTS

Greece comprehensively outplayed at Finland

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Soccer

Greece is all but out of the Nations League after suffering a 2-0 defeat at the hands of a superior Finland on Monday, a result that also puts Greece coach Michael Skibbe in a precarious position. It is not just his fault though.

The hosts at Tampere were the better team from start to finish and scored twice in the second half to get what they deserved, i.e. their fourth win in as many games.

Greece, on the other hand, is left with six points from four games, with only a mathematical chance of stealing the top spot from the Scandinavians in the two games left in this third-division group.

The Greek defense often had no answer to the quick and clever through-balls of the Finns, who shook off the early injury to their best player, Teemu Pukki and went on to threaten the Greek goal time and again.

The injury to defensive stalwart Sokratis Papastathopoulos resulted in a half-time substitution, with Tzavellas coming on, not as a left-back that is his usual position in the national team but as a central defender.

Less than a minute after the interval the hosts broke the deadlock, as a poor clearance in the Greek defense, first by Tzavellas and then by Costas Manolas, sent the ball to the path of Pyry Soiri who beat keeper Vassilis Barkas from close range.

The introduction of Lazaros Christodoulopoulos instead of Tasos Bakasetas livened up the Greek attack though, as it started asking questions at the Finnish defense.

Even so the hosts continued to plough into the Greek back line that seemed ever more vulnerable as the match went along. After Finland hit the post in a Robin Lod shot, the former Panathinaikos winger produced some skillful dribbling from the left to outfox the Greek defenders and cross the ball into the area, where Glen Kamara was to pounce the ball home on the 89th.

Greece will next host the Finns in Athens in November, but even a win by more than three clear goals will not suffice as Greece will also need Finland to lose at Hungary three days later.

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