Greece beats Romania 1-0

CONSTANTA, Romania (AP) – Stelios Yiannakopoulos scored from a free kick as visiting Greece upset Romania 1-0 on Wednesday in a friendly match. Greece took the lead in the 17th minute when Yiannakopoulos arched a 25-meter free kick over the wall to beat the Romanian goalkeeper. The match, played on a soft pitch on the Gheorghe Hagi stadium, featured an aggressive Greek side that defended well and threatened with rapid counterattacks. Romania had a hesitant start, with its players concentrating poorly in their passing and control of the ball. However, the hosts took control of the game and could have equalized in the 33rd minute when striker Daniel Pancu fired a volley shot from 7 meters just over the bar. The Greeks also missed a clear chance to make it 2-0 in the 35th minute when Yiannakopoulos, with just the keeper to beat, fired over the bar from just 8 meters. Romania came back strongly in the second half, pressing hard for the equalizer, but goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis made several outstanding saves to deny the Romanian forwards. Romania missed its biggest chance in the 85th minute when Adrian Iencsi’s header from 8 meters hit the post. The two coaches made a flurry of changes in the second half, testing new talents. Romania plays Bosnia on September 7, in a group where it will also have to fight Denmark, Norway and Luxembourg for qualification for the 2004 European Championships, while Greece plays Spain on the same date. Greece also faces Ukraine, Armenia and Northern Ireland. The qualifiers will end on October 2003. The group winner will advance directly to the finals in Portugal, while the runner-up will be involved in a playoff match with a runner-up from another group. «We missed so many chances today… that hopefully we have run out of bad luck for the Bosnia match,» said Romania’s Cosmin Contra, who plays for AC Milan.