Greece U19 draws 1-1 and needs one point to advance

The Greece Under-19 soccer team is just one point away from qualifying for the semifinals of the European Championship in Austria, after drawing 1-1 with the hosts on Wednesday night. The boys of coach Nikos Nioplias will be playing Spain tomorrow (7 p.m.) hoping for at least a draw, which would be enough for both teams to advance to the last four of the competition. Greece started the game by far the better side and went ahead after 15 minutes thanks to a goal that was identical to the one which helped Greece beat Portugal on Monday. Sotiris Ninis tricked his opponents and passed the ball to the right while looking to the left, with Costas Mitroglou turning it into his second goal of the tournament. Ninis and Dimitris Siovas missed good scoring chances, but the injury of Yiannis Papadopoulos and his substitution changed the flow of the game, with Greece becoming less creative and more defensive. The Austrians improved their game and hit the woodwork in the third minute of the second half with Marko Arnautovic. At the hour mark the referee awarded a dubious penalty to Austria when Edin Salkic and Siovas fought for the ball. Daniel Beichler converted the spot kick, giving Austria its first point in the tournament. Worse still for Greece, its excellent goalkeeper Apostolos Androutsos was injured and will miss the rest of the championship. Elin Dimoutsos is suspended for the Spain match. «We shall qualify as I believe we are a very good side. The world will have to turn upside down for us to miss out on the semifinals,» said Dimoutsos. «We feel tired, but by the time of the game with the Spanish we will have recovered and we will be fresh in that decisive game. We are not worried by our absences as our players are very good and can fill all gaps from injuries and suspensions,» said Ninis. If Greece beats Spain it will finish top of its group and face the other group’s runner-up, France, Germany or Serbia.

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