We watched the game, Greece vs. Cyprus from the arm-chair, or more like a seat that swivels from the LGR offices.
It was the first time these neighbouring teams met, making history in an awesome competitive game. The stakes were very high as either a win or a draw, would be help to the sides chances to qualify for the World Cup finals 2018 in Russia.
Friday night October 7th at 19:45 at the Football Stadium Georgios Karaiskakis, we finally had kick-off…
The match was full of excitement, as the visiting team, Cyprus, were quick to go on counter-attack and creative, troubling Greece’s defence to the approving roar of the visiting 1,500 Cypriot fans making the trip to Piraeus. Greece’s make-shift midfield brought in Kostas Stafylidis replacing Andreas Samaris who was injured next to Giannis Maniatis as holding midfielders, and they were tested by the ambitious Cypriot team who pressed forward in the early moments of the game.
Despite our plucky Cypriot showing, it was the in-form Kostas Mitroglou opening the score in the 12 minute, with a fine shot. Kostas Fortounis took hold of a loose ball in the Cyprus box and fed incoming Mitroglou who slid the ball past Cypriot keeper Kostas Panagi and his strike making it two goals out of two qualifiers for him.
Taking full advantage of a Cypriot goalkeeping error by Panagi, Greek player Petros Mantalos made it two at 42 minutes before Half-Time crucially.
2-0 ahead for Greece, job well done for the German coach Michael Skibbe of the Greek team, who prior to the game said they had a need to erase Euro 2016’s qualifying phase for them and pick up points helping them to get closer to the qualification to the World Cup which is to take place in two years.
Second-Half, Cyprus showed desperate signs of immediately trying to take something from the match, with efforts by Nestor Mytides and Giorgos Efrem, and was unlucky not to score as they caught Greece’s defence by surprise with again their ambitious counter-attacking style. The second half continued and it seemed an air of content was clearly taking over; both teams were looking increasingly to the full-time whistle.
So, it seems both sides were turning their mind to Monday when they have equally very serious qualifiers to think about. All in all, Greece are definitely the happier outfit with two wins out of two games following the 4-1 away victory over Gibraltar, completing four wins on the trot. Cyprus is yet to register a single point and will be hoping with enough time ahead to make their impression for Group H’s qualification phase.
Both countries meet again in Nicosia on 7th October 2017 to wind up the campaign.
Greece is now joint top of the table along with Belgium and on Monday the team will travel to Estonia. Cyprus, still on zero points, visits Bosnia next.
Good luck Cyprus.