SPORTS

Torosidis secures Greece’s first victory under Fernando Santos

Fresh from its 1-0 victory over Latvia at home on Friday, the national soccer team is preparing for its next match for the 2012 European Championship qualifiers against Israel tomorrow, knowing that one more win will set it well on its course to reaching the finals in Poland and Ukraine. Playing a solid and beautiful game at the Karaiskakis Stadium on Friday evening in front of some 15,000 fans, Greece scored its first competitive victory under manager Fernando Santos and should have enjoyed a greater score margin in the end. Greece had several young players and impressed with its skill and determination from players such as Sotiris Ninis, Giorgos Tzavellas and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who would all qualify to play for the national Under-21 team, too. Next to them there were the mainstays of Costas Katsouranis, Giorgos Karagounis and Vassilis Torosidis. In fact it was Torosidis and Katsouranis who combined at the 58th minute for Greece’s sole goal. It was a quick move from the right by right-back Torosidis, who made his way to the edge of the box, played the one-two with Katsouranis and sent a curling shot past the Latvia goalkeeper for one of the evening’s most beautiful strikes across Europe. Unfortunately for Greece, Torosidis received a harsh yellow card for supposed playacting in the first half and will miss the key match against Israel tomorrow evening at the same ground. Also missing will be defensive midfielder Alexandros Tziolis, who was injured during extra time and is likely to be sidelined for the next four to six months with a fractured shin. News from his club, Spain’s Racing Santander, suggested yesterday he is due to undergo surgery. In view of these absences Santos issued emergency invites to AEK defensive midfielder Grigoris Makos and Panionios right-back Yiannis Maniatis. After Saturday’s 2-1 home loss for Israel to Croatia, Greece is joint second in the group along with Georgia, with five points. Croatia has seven and Israel has four. Latvia follows with three and Malta has no points yet.