The debut of Dutch coach John van ’t Schip on the Greece bench marked one more defeat for the national team, the third in succession, as the 1-0 loss to Finland on Thursday at Tampere leaves Greece all but out of the Euro 2020 finals.
The new coach made several changes to the team that Angelos Anastasiadis had fielded last June against Italy and Armenia, but the net result was the same, as despite holding the ball for long spells the Greeks were unable to create the number and quality of chances needed to break the Finnish defense.
Robin Lod missed Finland’s first chance after 27 minutes, as the Greek midfield enjoyed plenty of possession in a bid to contain the creativity and enthusiasm of the hosts.
Greece responded with a good volley by Efthymis Koulouris three minutes on, but both that and a Giorgos Masouras shot on the 38th missed the target.
Finland raised its pressure after the interval and earned a penalty on the 51st after a reckless tackle by Dimitris Kourbelis. Teemu Pukki converted it into a goal sending Vassilis Barkas the wrong way.
The introduction of youngster Vangelis Pavilids in the last 15 minutes of the game livened up the Greek attack, but Greece hardly ever threatened the hosts in the second half.
Greece is left with four points from five games, while Italy is on 15 and Finland on 12. The top two advance and there are five games left to play. On Sunday Greece is hosting Liechtenstein in Athens.