‘Many mistakes’ lead to 2-2 draw against Slovakia

Showing signs of weakness in defense, the national team was held to a 2-2 draw by Slovakia which equalized twice to avoid a home defeat in an international soccer friendly played in Zilina, western Slovakia, on Wednesday night. Greek striker Angelos Bassinas, who came on after the break, squandered a late opportunity to hand his side victory by failing to put away a penalty kick in the last minute of the match. Slovakian striker Szilard Nemeth proved more lethal up front. He scored both his team’s equalizers. The Greeks took the lead in the 13th minute when Vassilis Tsartas converted a penalty kick but Nemeth answered just seconds later off a pass from Miroslav Karhan. Lambros Houtos, who joined play midway through the second half, put Greece back in the lead in the 77th minute, scoring off a corner. But Nemeth got his second chance of the night 10 minutes later. «I’m generally pleased, but not content with certain parts of the game,» remarked Greece’s coach Otto Rehhagel. «I can say that, at 1-1, my players were angst-ridden. Many mistakes, at individual level, were made. I respect the fact that the boys are showing interest, despite the difficult games ahead in the national league,» he added. Wednesday’s clash, attended by a mediocre crowd of 2,800 spectators, came as Greece’s final round of match practice ahead of a Euro 2004 qualifier against Group 6 front runner Spain in Zaragoza on June 7. A crucial encounter in Athens four days later against Ukraine is likely to determine second place and another crack at qualifying.