Greece gets to Euro finals with victory in Istanbul

Greece qualified for the Euro 2008 soccer finals with two rounds of play remaining after an impressive 1-0 win against Turkey at a packed Ali Sami Yen Stadium in Istanbul last night. Yiannis Amanatidis scored the winner in the 79th minute of play with an elegant chip over the keeper. Greece had previously created scoring chances and, at 1-0, continued to apply pressure for a bigger lead. Substitute Arda Turan, who came on as a substitute for Turkey in the 71st minute, struck the post 15 minutes later from close range, in what was Turkey’s biggest opportunity to score. The win gave the reigning European champions an 8-1-1 record in its campaign and 25 points. Turkey, on 18 points, will battle for second place with Norway, which went into its encounter at Bosnia-Herzegovina later last night trailing Turkey by a point. «Since losing to Turkey at home we have shown great character. We dedicate this win to all Greeks,» declared Greece’s goalkeeper Costas Chalkias right after the game, referring to Greece’s 4-1 loss to Turkey in Piraeus last March. Unperturbed by the neighboring rival’s fervent capacity home crowd at Istanbul’s Ali Sami Yen Stadium, the Greek team settled into the game quickly. Greece dominated the first half of play, which developed some flow following a tense and apprehensive start, and proved to be the more dangerous side in attack. The visitors entered the second half with a similar frame of mind. Greece’s coach Otto Rehhagel refreshed his attack shortly after the break, bringing on Nikos Lymberopoulos and Giorgos Samaras within minutes of each other in place of Fanis Gekas and Angelos Charisteas, respectively.