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Greece upsets Euro 2004 odds again with draw against Spain

PORTO – Angelos Charisteas scored a second-half equalizer as upstart Greece followed up its stunning Euro 2004 victory over Portugal with a 1-1 tie with Spain last night. Fernando Morientes gave Spain a 28th minute lead and Madrid teammate Raul Gonzalez missed a close-range header that should have meant 2-0. But Charisteas fired under the body of goalkeeper Iker Casillas in the 66th minute for the Greek team, which had upset host Portugal 2-1 in the opening game of the championship. The equalizer stopped the Spaniards, who had already beaten Russia 1-0, from taking a decisive lead in the Group A standings. With Portugal facing Russia later last night, there was a chance its Iberian neighbor could get back in contention after its stunning opening day loss. Despite its 2-1 victory over Portugal – its first in a major championship – Greece fielded defending midfielder Constantinos Katsouranis in place of Angelis Basinas to bolster the defense. The Spaniards, who beat Russia 1-0 in their first Group A game, played attractive, enterprising soccer, but their early chances came from set pieces. Vicente’s in-swinging corner from the right flew across the goalmouth and, although Ivan Helguera threw himself at the ball, he failed to get a touch. Spanish defender Carlos Marchena was also shown the yellow card for a foul on Giorgos Karagounis and, because of a booking against Russia, now misses the third group game against neighbor Portugal. Helguera went close again from a free kick when he slid in at the far post, but contrived to deflect the ball away from goal instead of into the net. The Spaniards deservedly took the lead in the 28th minute when Greek defender Michalis Kapsis lost possession inside his own area on the left. Raul pounced on the ball and deftly backheeled it to Morientes, who maneuvered his way wide of two defenders and fired a low shot into the far corner. The Greeks almost leveled two minutes into the second half when Kapsis won the ball just outside Spain’s area and Theodoros Zagorakis fired a 20-meter shot that flew just past the angle of the post and the bar. Zagorakis then fired in another long-range effort which, thankfully for Spain, was straight at keeper Iker Casillas. Raul should have put the Spaniards further ahead when he arrived unmarked to meet a right-wing cross but headed high into the crowd from barely 6 meters. The miss looked even more costly when Greece leveled in the 66th minute. Raul Bravo conceded a foul on the left and, when the quick free kick was driven across field, Charisteas controlled the ball on his chest and fired a low left-foot shot under Casillas. (AP)