Dimitris Salpigidis was on target for Greece as the national team scored a precious win over Slovakia with a 1-0 score at Bratislava on Tuesday to stay in the running for the top spot of its qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup.
Coach Fernando Santos will be particularly happy with the result given the relatively poor performance of the Blues in the rainy Slovakian capital, but the three precious points are all that matters.
The Greeks played a cautious game in the first half but were clearly second best in the first 17 minutes of the second half. They should feel lucky that the hosts did not hit the target in a double effort in the 40th minute.
Yet just as Marek Hamsik missed a good chance for Slovakia from close range in the 62nd minute, the story of the game changed a few seconds later.
Costas Katsouranis crossed the ball from the right into the box. Defender Kornel Salata missed Salpigidis as the hosts’ defense tried to put the Greek striker offside, except that Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel had not moved along with the rest of the defenders, keeping the PAOK player on side and unmarked. He had no problem in flashing a shot past keeper Dusan Kuciak for 1-0.
Unlucky Dimitris Siovas got injured in the 75th and was substituted on his debut for Greece, after filling in for central defender Stelios Malezas who had got injured in the match against Bosnia four days earlier.
In the last 20 minutes Slovakia put more pressure on the Karnezis goal, but the Greek defense held on, having only conceded one goal in four games. Michal Breznanik wasted Slovakia’s best chance two minutes from time as he hit the woodwork.
Greece is now joint top of the table with Bosnia with 10 points in four games. These two teams will face off next in March 2013 in Bosnia.