SPORTS

Spaniards rebound for win

Greece lost 3-2 to Spain in a friendly match played in Thessaloniki late Wednesday night as a testimonial for retired Thodoris Zagorakis, who captained the national team to its Euro 2004 title. Zagorakis, who retired from competition at the end of last season, made one last brief appearance in Wednesday’s game, for a record 120th appearance, before being substituted just over a quarter of an hour into the game. «I feel a void,» said Zagorakis, now almost 36. «But that’s life. Some chapters have to close and others open instead. I thank God for keeping me healthy all these years and I thank the fans that applauded my matches and came here to bid me farewell. Now I am starting a new career at a club which has the chance to do well in the future. As for the national team, it has been a privilege for me to be part of it and I am sure that Greece will remain at the top in the coming years,» he continued, referring to his new post as head at Thessaloniki team PAOK. The Spaniards trailed twice but managed to equalize both times before snatching victory with an injury-time goal. Fanis Gekas and Costas Katsouranis scored for Greece, but Spain defender Carlos Marchena scored one goal and David Silva added two more in the second half – the Valencia midfielder’s first goals for the national team. Spain coach Luis Aragones praised his team for overcoming poor playing conditions to beat Greece. Prior to Wednesday night’s game, Aragones had criticized the patchy and uneven field at Toumba stadium, describing it as dangerous for the players. «Everyone knew this was a field which gave you very little chance of playing well. We made an effort and the attitude of the Spanish players, and the Greeks, too, was extraordinary,» Aragones was quoted as saying by El Pais yesterday. «A couple of things went wrong. The important thing is that we fought back and played well enough to beat a tough opponent. Greece is a good team,» Aragones added. With Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas and defender Sergio Ramos out through injury, it was the first time since a 1994 World Cup match against Bolivia that Spain had fielded a side without a Madrid player. Greece, which leads Group C in Euro 2008 qualifiers with six wins from seven games, plays Norway in Oslo on September 12 in its next official game. Greece leads the seven-team group by five points. Turkey, which shares second place with Bosnia-Herzegovina and Norway, has a game in hand. Spain’s victory was its sixth straight. Spain, which has European Championship qualifying matches with Iceland and Latvia next month, is in third place in Group F with five matches to play. The top two teams of both groups qualify for the finals. (Kathimerini, AP)