SPORTS

Greece survives Turkish side’s onslaught in Under-21 match

Surviving a second-half onslaught by a determined Turkish side, Greece’s Under-21 soccer team struck twice late in a European Championship qualifier Tuesday night for a 2-1 home victory. The Turks narrowed the score with a goal in the final minute of play. Greece, with four points from two games, shares the lead in Group 2 with Georgia. Turkey lies second from bottom with a point after two rounds. In his post-match remarks, Greece’s coach Stelios Manolas acknowledged Turkey’s superiority but noted that his side was able to capitalize on the scoring opportunities that came its way. «It was a great game in the second half between two very good sides… The Turkish side was better prepared. We took advantage of our scoring opportunities and won the game,» Manolas said. «We had the game in our hands until we conceded the first goal,» said Turkey’s coach Rasit Cetiner. «We have a problem in offense,» he added, pointing out that Turkey failed to convert 11 scoring opportunities in his side’s opening round’s scoreless draw against Georgia. The Greek team, keen to make the most of its home-ground advantage, applied pressure from early on. It came close to opening the scoring two minutes into play after striker Mantzios stole the ball from Turkish central defender Yoldas, entered the penalty area, but shot wide after being pursued by three Turkish defenders. The visitor started strongly following the break and came close to scoring after 47 minutes when striker Tatan’s chipped shot struck the horizontal bar. Greece survived another close call at 58 minutes. Right back Cora’s cross was met by a powerful shot from substitute Akin which keeper Sifakis managed to block. Despite the pressure, Greece, on the counterattack, could have scored after 63 minutes when striker Lagos, unmarked, sent the ball straight to the Turkish keeper. Greece opened the scoring at 76 minutes after Mantzios, who received a perfect pass from Bourbos, resisted a strong defensive challenge, remained standing, and fired past the Turkish keeper. Mantzios had also scored Greece’s equalizer in a 1-1 draw against Albania four days earlier. The Turks came close to scoring twice within two minutes, both times with headers, on 83 and 84 minutes. The first chance struck the post and the second was cleared from the line by midfielder Tziolis. He scored the game’s sealer five minutes later after being brought down in the box and converting a penalty. Akin, one of Turkey’s best players on the night, narrowed with a well-struck free kick after 90 minutes.