SPORTS

Softer-than-butter Greece concedes three to Colombia

No beautiful horizon lies ahead for Greece after its performance at Belo Horizonte on Saturday and its 3-0 loss to Colombia in its opening game for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, as besides its defeat the national team was disappointing in many ways.

Greece was bereft of ideas in the midfield and lacking its usual confidence in its back line, in a game whose pace was so low that it was reminiscent of the 1950s.

The men of coach Fernando Santos gave the 3,000 Greek fans a performance that was softer than butter, conceding no more than four free kicks in the whole of the first half.

Colombia’s key player was Juan Cuadrado who toyed with Jose Holebas on numerous occasions on Greece’s left flank, the first of which was the opening goal for Los Cafeteros.

Just four-and-a-half minutes after the start of the game Cuadrado outfoxed Holebas, crossed from the right to near the penalty spot, where Pablo Armero tried a shot that was deflected into the net by hapless Costas Manolas.

The shock of the early goal took its toll on the Greeks, who needed at least 20 minutes before they would settle their nerves.

Being short of ideas in attack, the Greek wingers (Dimitris Salpingidis and Giorgos Samaras) would only cross into the box in search of Fanis Gekas, whose head was lost in the sea of Colombian defenders.

Greece’s only chances in the first half were a header by Vassilis Torosidis that went wide and a Panayiotis Kone shot that pulled a spectacular save out of Colombian goalkeeper David Ospina in the 45th minute.

Despite the rather positive start to the second half, Greece conceded again 13 minutes from the restart, as Teofilo Gutierrez was left unmarked in the six-yard box and turned a corner kick from the right into Colombia’s second goal.

By far the best chance for Greece was Gekas’s header against the crossbar in the 63rd minute, at a point when a goal would have put the national team back into the game. At least this was a decent team effort which very nearly produced a Greek goal.

The introduction of Yiannis Fetfatzidis, Costas Mitroglou and Giorgos Karagounis changed nothing in the game for Greece, that relied only on good personal endeavors.

James Rodriguez put the cherry on top for Colombia in injury time slotting the ball past keeper Orestis Karnezis after a back-heel pass by Cuadrado.

“We did not deserve such a heavy result, we had our chances, we hit the woodwork, but that’s soccer,” said brave-faced Karnezis.

Greece will clash with Japan next on Thursday night.