SPORTS

Greece downs Moldova 1-0 but plays badly

European soccer champions Greece secured a hard-fought win on Saturday in Moldova, where it beat the weak home team 1-0 on the opening day of the 2008 European Championship qualifying round. Otto Rehhagel’s men had to wait until the 78th minute to break the Moldovan defense at Chisinau. Angelos Basinas swang a left-hand corner into the box, substitute Nikos Lyberopoulos headed the ball softly and it bounced into the net, to the Greeks’ huge relief. Previously Basinas had missed a penalty kick by putting the ball over the bar in the 28th minute, in a lackluster first half for Greece. The holders seemed more determined in the second half, with the introduction of Lyberopoulos and Dimitris Salpiggidis replacing a disappointing Angelos Charisteas and Theodoris Zagorakis. Against a local side that produced virtually no scoring opportunities, Greece took advantage of its possession and eventually found a way through. Rehhagel later expressed his satisfaction with the win, saying that «any other result would have been disastrous. We started with a win, whereas in the last campaign we had started with a defeat in Albania.» Added Lyberopoulos, «I hope our next win is easier.» Greece’s next match is on October 7 at home against Norway, with a trip to Bosnia set for four days later.