Greece stays second in group with scoreless draw in Turkey

European champions Greece held Turkey to a 0-0 draw in their World Cup qualifier on Saturday night, dealing another blow to the home team’s hopes of reaching next year’s finals in Germany. To complete Turkey’s misery, Yildiray Bastuerk was sent off in the final minute after being shown a second yellow card for handling the ball in the Greek penalty area. The result left Greece second in Group Two on 15 points and Turkey, a semifinalist in the last World Cup, third on 13. Ukraine has 20 points after beating Kazakhstan 2-0 earlier on Saturday. Greece greets frontrunner Ukraine this Wednesday at Karaiskaki Stadium, while Turkey plays away against Kazakhstan. Sea of red and white Greece and Turkey have come to the brink of war three times since 1974, and concern over security at matches between the two prompted Greece to turn down its ticket allocations for the game in Istanbul. That transformed the Inonu Stadium into a screaming sea of red and white. Turkish fans, some dressed like Ottoman warriors, played thundering drums in the stands. Turkey, which enjoyed an advantage in ball control in the first half, applied pressure early on and had several efforts at goals in the first minutes. Emre Belozoglu took a hard shot in the seventh minute, but it was deflected by Greece goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis. Greece, however, kept up the pressure and Angelos Charisteas headed the ball toward a goal in the 38th. Turkey ‘keeper Rustu Recber deflected the ball before a charging Stelios Giannakopoulos could make contact in front of the box. Turkey maintained pressure going into the second half and a header by Fatih Tekke off a cross from Umit Ozat was easily caught by Nikopolidis in the 50th. Greece’s best opportunity came in the 54th when a shot by Giannakopoulos hit the crossbar. Just two minutes later, Georgios Karagounis fired another shot at Turkey’s goal, but that was intercepted by Recber. Tuncay shot wide for Turkey in the 69th and headed another over the bar in two successive disappointments for Turkey. Turkey’s defense found itself in disarray in the 78th, when Vassilis Lakis was confronted with an empty goal box, but the Turkish defense deflected the ball before a clear shot could be taken. Fatih Tekke had another opportunity in the 84th, but his effort was scooped by Nikopolidis. Turkey played the final minutes of the game without Yildiray Basturk, who was handed a red card in the 90th after fighting with the referee. (Reuters, AP)

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