Fresh away win for Greece

reece maintained its impeccable record in the qualifying round of the European 2008 Soccer Championship with a 4-0 win and a solid display in Zenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, late last night. The Greeks started the game in Zenica well, though Stelios Yiannakopoulos missed the holders’ first chance in the second minute as his right-foot volley was deflected wide. Then Dalibor Silic conceded a penalty by handling the ball after a Yiannakopoulos cross. Angelos Charisteas converted the penalty with a low shot to the right corner to give the Greeks an early lead. Otto Rehhagel’s men dropped a gear after the goal and played a cautious defensive game with some counterattacks. This allowed the Bosnians to threaten the Greek goal, first in the 21st minute with Ivica Grlic’s strong shot from outside the box that bounced out of goal and then 13 minutes later when a Grlic cross pulled a last-ditch save by Antonis Nikopolidis. The Olympiakos keeper denied the Bosnians again twice before the first half was over. In the 50th minute Yuri Baskakov, the referee, controversially dismissed Sasa Papac after a foul on Yiannakopoulos by Branimir Bajic. Takis Fyssas’s free kick was then saved by substitute goalkeeper Almir Tolja. Giorgos Samaras could have made it 2-0 in the 62nd minute when his fierce shot from the edge of the box screamed wide. Super-sub Christos Patsatzoglou tried in the 66th to slot the ball past Tolja, but his shot rolled out, yet 15 minutes later he managed to find the target with a strong right-foot shot. Samaras scored the third in the 85th minute with a tap-in from a Patsatzoglou pass, while Katsouranis completed the scoring with a lob in the last minute of injury time. Thodoris Zagorakis earned his record 119th and probably last cap coming on as a substitute in the 36th minute, replacing injured Giorgos Karagounis. In the group’s other matches, Turkey had an easy night at the neutral venue of Frankfurt, beating Moldova 5-0, while Malta upset Hungary, with a 2-1 home win. This leaves Greece and Turkey at the top of Group C with nine points. Norway follows with six points. The first two qualify to the finals.