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World Cup 2014
 

Greece 2 Ivory Coast 1 - Match highlights, key battle and what the result means

Published on Jun 25, 2014 7:11 AM
 
Greece penalty hero Giorgios Samaras (right) slides on his knees to celebrate his winner against Ivory Coast. -- PHOTO: AFP.

In what appeared to be a dull match to wrap up the battle for second place in Group C, Greece clinched the coveted spot in the round of 16 but only after beating Ivory Coast courtesy of a dubious penalty.

Fernando Santos' side have failed to score in their first two matches in Brazil but delivered when it really mattered by netting twice and hitting the woodwork three times against the Ivorians.

And as they say, better late than never.

Highlights

- Cheick Tiote's careless pass was intercepted by Greek midfielder Andreas Samaris in the 43rd minute, who exchanged quick passes with forward Giorgios Samaras before side-footing into the net.

- Ivory Coast hit back through in the 74th minute through substitute striker Wilfried Bony. Salomon Kalou sliced the Greek defence into two with a perfect through ball and Gervinho raced down the left to square for Bony to finish. The Ivorians needed a draw and seemed on track for the round of 16.

- But in stoppage time, Samaras appeared to trip himself over inside the box with Ivorian forward Giovanni Sio near him. Ecuadorian referee Carlos Vera pointed to the spot and Samaras made no mistake with his spot kick.

Key battle

Giorgios Samaras vs Kolo Toure/Souleymane Bamba

Greece forward Samaras stands at 1.93m tall, has a delicate first touch and dribbling skills. Played out wide in a 4-3-3 system, he is expected to cut in from the left to either supply crosses or to take shots.

Facing the Celtic man is the aggressive stopper Bamba and the veteran Toure, who has extensive English Premier League experience with Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool.

Man of the Match

It appeared to be a non-contest to begin with. Samaras had not scored in his last 24 hours of international football. Yes, that's an entire day out on the pitch without hitting the back of the net. In his previous 76 games for his country, he notched just eight times.

But the 29-year-old probably played one of the games of his life. His deft pass set up Samaris for the opener and throughout the game at Fortaleza, he ran at the Ivorians, dragging markers out of position to create space for his fellow forwards.

He may have earned the winning penalty in controversial circumstances but Samaras kept his cool to strike the goal that sent Greece through to the round of 16 for the first time in its history.

What the result means

Greece's win simply reinforces the saying that football can be a funny old game. Without a goal in their first two games, they finally scored two, including a last-gasp winner that stole the round of 16 ticket from the hands of Ivory Coast to meet Costa Rica in Recife next Monday.

For Fernando Santos' side, making it through to the second stage is already a major victory. It is mission accomplished for a side still living in the shadows of the Euro 2004 winning team.

But spare a thought for Ivory Coast, who must be gutted by the manner of their elimination.

The exit will mark the end of an era for the African side. For the past decade, the Elephants have relied on the services of Didier Drogba and the brothers Kolo and Yaya Toure. Now in their 30s, this is surely their last ever World Cup.

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