18 November 2009
Greece never play pretty football. It’s what they know best. It’s what it takes for them to get results. Today, Ukraine huffed and puffed but were undone by a wonderful Georgios Samaras pass to Dimitrios Salpigids just after the half hour as Greece got the away goal, then held on for a 1-0 win to advance to the World Cup.
Let’s be frank, the game was not a good advertisement for those who happened to watch on ESPN2. Greece were more than happy to sit back and counter while letting the Ukraine, mainly Andriy Shevchenko, fall flat on their face. While the Ukraine created plenty of shooting opportunities, nothing threatened the frame after halftime. Greece on the other hand, countered with ease and could have put the game away shortly before halftime and about 10 minutes from full time when Gekas, who had replaced Samaras after halftime got in on goal, but was too late in getting a shot off.
Greece kept their shape exceptionally well for the entire ninety minutes, at times having all 11 players behind the ball in defense. The Ukraine were more worried about their attack, and were undone by Samaras’s pass that caught their center backs flatfooted.
So after missing out on the 06 World Cup, the 2004 European Champions are South Africa bound. For the Ukraine, they will be kicking themselvfes for not being able to break down a Greece defense that was never in danger of giving up a goal over 180 minutes.