SPORTS

Katsouranis preserves Santos’s unbeaten record

A decent second half was enough for Greece to maintain its unbeaten record under coach Fernando Santos, as the national team drew 1-1 with Russia in a friendly game on November 11 at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus.

This was the 17th game Greece have not conceded defeat under Santos, although the picture in the first half warned that the loss would not be avoided this time.

Russia led from as early as the second minute of the game as an Alan Dzagoev through ball split the center of the Greek defense and Roman Shirokov sent the ball in through a lucky bounce on the boot of Sokratis Papastathopoulos that had Greece keeper Alexis Tzorvas disorientated.

The visitors at the almost empty stadium, as no more than 5,000 fans braved the cold to watch the friendly, took advantage of the hosts? shock from the unexpectedly cold night and produced a great display in the first 25 minutes that could have easily translated into more than just one goal.

?What we played in the first half was not soccer,? said a harsh Santos afterwards.

In the second half Greece played a completely different game, though. It took it no more than 15 minutes to equalize through a Costas Katsouranis header from a Fanis Gekas cross, although unmarked Katsouranis did appear to be in an offside position. This goal counted, unlike three other goals Greece scored and did not count, all for a good reason.

Gekas also got close to the target, but he was unfortunate to see his header stop at the Russian upright at the 70th minute.

One of the positive points of the night was the successful debut to Jose Holebas, or Holevas as the German-born left-back of Olympiakos is now called after getting a Greek passport due to his Greek father.

Santos started the game with Tzorvas, Vassilis Torosidis, Holevas, Avraam Papadopoulos, Papastathopoulos, Katsouranis, Giorgos Karagounis, Giorgos Fotakis, Giorgos Samaras, Dimitris Salpingidis and Gekas.

In the second half he introduced Alexandros Tziolis, Angelos Charisteas, Panayiotis Kone, Costas Mitroglou, Nikos Liberopoulos and Grigoris Makos.

Greece?s next match is on November 15 in Austria against Romania, another friendly game ahead of the Euro 2012 finals Greece has qualified to.