Experienced Greece defeats creative Cyprus
Greece made it two out of two in the World Cup qualifiers beating visiting Cyprus 2-0 in Piraeus despite a rather lackluster performance on Friday. Two first-half goals by Costas Mitroglou and Petros Mantalos sealed it for the hosts.
The successful start to the tenure of German manager Michael Skibbe on the Greek bench continues. He opted for left-back Costas Stafylidis as a replacement for injured Andreas Samaris next to Yiannis Maniatis as holding midfielders, and they had plenty of work against a quite creative Cypriot side.
Yet Greece needed just 12 minutes to open the score, as Costas Fortounis took hold of a loose ball in the Cyprus box and fed incoming Mitroglou who slid the ball past Cypriot keeper Costas Panaghi.
Then three minutes before half-time Mantalos took advantage of an error by Panaghi and lobbed the ball into the net for Greece’s second goal.
Cyprus twice came close to pulling a goal back early in the second half via Nestor Mytides and Giorgos Efraim, and was unlucky not to score as the Greek defense appeared disorganized at times.
It is worth noting that when the 1,500 Cypriot fans chanted “Greece-Cyprus, Enosis”, the rest of the stadium offered a warm round of applause. Enosis, a historically charged word for the Cypriots, means Union in Greek.
Greece is now joint top of the table along with Belgium and on Monday it travels to Estonia. Cyprus, still on zero points, visits Bosnia next.