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Greece

Ivory Coast

Tue - Jun 24 4:00 pm

Stadium

CityFortaleza
StadiumEstádio Castelão

Lineups

Lineups
Orestis Karnezis
Vasilis Torosidis
Sokratis Papastathopoulos
Giannis Maniatis
José Holebas
Kostas Manolas
Giorgos Karagounis (c)
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos
Panagiotis Kone
Dimitris Salpingidis
Giorgos Samaras
Boubacar Barry
Kolo Touré
Arthur Boka
Sol Bamba
Serge Aurier
Yaya Touré
Cheick Tioté
Didier Drogba
Salomon Kalou
Gervinho

Report

In a quite astonishing climax in Fortaleza, Greece qualified from Group C after Georgios Samaras's penalty broke Ivorian hearts.
In the 92nd minute of the game, the Celtic man had his heels clipped by the substitute Giovanni Sio as he advanced on goal. He picked himself up and rammed home the spot kick, sparking wild celebrations on the touchline.

A side who had not scored a goal before their final group game are now heading for a meeting with Costa Rica. It is the first time in their history the Greeks have progressed to the World Cup knockout round.

"We are really proud of ourselves. This means so much to me, to us... Tonight we had energy," Samaras said, dedicating the victory to Greeks suffering through financial crisis.

"We really hope we can make the people happy back home. We are a team. A team – that's it."

At the point Samaras intervened, this stubborn, spirited Greek side, who fielded at least two players whose names alone fill up all space available for a match report, looked to be heading for the airport.

The Ivorians appeared to have secured the point they needed when the substitute Wilfried Bony rapped in Gervinho's deft reverse pass in the 74th minute to equalise Andreas Samaras's first-half opener. But it was not to be.

The Ivory Coast players took to the field wearing black arm bands, in tribute to the Tourés' brother Ibrahim, who died last week of cancer at the age of 28, and to the victims of a series of lethal landslides in the country. They were led out by Didier Drogba with the air of a man determined to secure a result.

It was, though, Greece who needed the victory. They got off to a terrible start, losing two men within the first 20 minutes. Panagiotis Kone hobbled off to be replaced by Andreas Samaris just before the keeper Orestis Karnezis hurt his back and was replaced by Panagiotis Glykos.

Any victory would clearly be hard won. For much of the first half stalemate reigned. There was a Mexican wave after four minutes, which is never a sign of full crowd engagement.

Then, just before half-time, Samaris paid rich dividend for his early call from the bench, snaffling up a sloppy pass by Cheick Tiote on the halfway line, before exchanging passes with Samaras and spearing the ball past Boubacar Barry.

As the second half began, roles had been reversed: it was the Ivory Coast who needed to score. Bony came off the bench for Tiote to add pace up front.

Gervinho had a dash, Manolas slid in with a goal-saving tackle as Kalou charged into the box, Toure's shot cannoned off a defender. Eventually, they got what appeared the required goal when Bony was on hand in the area. But with the Africans pressing, inevitably they left gaps. Salpingidis's effort required a fine save from Barry, Torosidis was brought down as he broke on goal by a desperate Kalou challenge, the veteran Karagounis rattled the bar. And then came African misery. Just like England's, the country's Golden Generation have failed once more to shine.

On an evening when Luis Suárez brought more shame to football, there was a touching gesture at the end of this contest when match-winner Samaras went over to Ivorian goalkeeper Barry to sportingly offer his sympathy to his beaten opponent.

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