SPORTS

National team braces for World Cup playoffs after win over Liechtenstein

Greece will try to qualify to the 2014 World Cup through the November playoffs as it finished second in its qualifying group after it beat Liechtenstein 2-0 at home on Tuesday while Bosnia downed Lithuania 1-0 away.

The national team will find out on Monday, October 21, its opponent for the home-and-away playoff on November 15 and 19 that will secure the winner a spot in the finals in Brazil in June.

Playing in front of about 15,000 fans at the Karaiskakis stadium in Piraeus, Greece was not as convincing as one would have expected it to be against a minnow such as Liechtenstein, but managed to score from its first genuine chance seven minutes into the game.

Jose Holebas produced a delicate cross into the box that eluded Costas Mitroglou but found Dimitris Salpingidis who turned the ball in from close range.

The visitors voiced a fair penalty claim later in the first half for a Dimitris Siovas handball in the area, but the referee considered it unintentional.

In the second half Greece became slightly more creative and produced some more chances, but it had to be a set piece that confirmed Greece’s victory. Captain Giorgos Karagounis took a freekick on the 81st minute, the ball came off the post and then the back of the Liechtenstein goalkeeper to find its way into the net for 2-0.

That was the first time Karagounis had scored for Greece since his strike against Russia that gifted Greece a place in the Euro 2012 quarterfinals.

Greece finished the group level on points with Bosnia, but had an inferior goal difference and had to settle for second.

In total Greece had eight victories, one draw and one loss, summing 25 points. In Monday’s draw it will be among the four seeded teams.