Greece Gets Israel, Grabs Group Top Spot


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Greece World Cup defender AVRAAM PAPADOPOULOS (8) of FC Olympiakos Piraeus gets his head to the ball ahead of Israel goalkeeper DUDU AOUATE (far left) of Spanish side Real Mallorca amongst a crowd of players including Greece World Cup defender SOKRATIS PAPASTATHOPOULOS (19) of Italian club AC Milan and Israel midfielder TAMIR COHEN (21) of English team Bolton Wanderers at the Karaiskakis Stadium in the historical city of Athens. (Louisa Gouliamaki / AFP / Getty Images)
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European Championships Qualifying
October 12, 2010

2 – GREECE —————– Salpigidis 22′, Karagounis pen 63′
1 – ISRAEL ——————- own goal 59

A second half penalty kick separated two teams in a closely-contested encounter with limited chances as GREECE got the better of ISRAEL 2-1 in the Group F qualifying match of the 2012 European Championships.

Striker DIMITRIS SALPIGIDIS of PAOK Thessaloniki, the 29-year-old who scored Greece’s first-ever goal at a World Cup final tournament this past summer in South Africa, sent the home side ahead in the 22nd minute after latching onto a smart pass from veteran AEK Athens midfielder PANTELIS KAFES.

Kafes, the 32-year-old who earned his 34th cap for this country against Israel, was not part of the Greek squad that took part in South Africa and is a recall of Greece’s new Portuguese manager FERNANDO SANTOS, who replaced the German OTTO REHHAGEL after the World Cup.

Short-handed Israel, who are missing injured captain and goal-getting winger YOSSI BENAYOUN of English Premier League champions FC Chelsea, pulled level about a quarter of an hour into the second half when Greece World Cup defender NIKOS SPYROPOULOS of FC Panathinaikos Athens turned the cross of FC Maccabi Tel Aviv striker ROBERTO COLAUTTI into his own net.

But, the hosts’ captain and World Cup midfielder GIORGOS KARAGOUNIS of FC Panathinaikos Athens, playing his 101st international game for his country, sent the Greeks back to the lead from the spot just four minutes later after Salpigidis was spilled by Israel goalkeeper DUDU AOUATE of Spanish side Real Mallorca in the area.

Israel substitute midfielder GIL VERMOUTH of FC Hapoel Tel Aviv might have drawn the visiting side level again shortly after entering the match, but his shot from about 20 yards out hit the post with Greece goalkeeper MICHALIS SIFAKIS of FC Aris Thessaloniki beaten.

With the victory over the Israel in Athens, Greece vaulted over Croatia to grab the top spot in Group F with eight points. The Greeks remain unbeaten after four matches in a competitive group which also includes Georgia. The formidable Croats, however, have a game in hand on the 2010 World Cup finalists, it should be noted.

A second consecutive one-goal loss in the European Championships, then, for the snake-bit Israelis, who were also without the suspended TAL BEN HAIM of English club West Ham United, a key man on the back line, and injured Glasgow Celtic midfielder BIRAM KAYAL in addition to the influential Benayoun for the Greece match.

Perhaps it was Vermouth’s effort which best exemplified the fortunes of French manager LUIS FERNANDEZ’s Israel national team over this most recent international break.

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Israel midfielder LIOR RAFAELOV (20) of FC Maccabi Haifa runs around the challenge of Greece World Cup defender LOUKAS VYNTRA (11) of FC Panathinaikos Athens as recalled veteran midfielder PANTELIS KAFES (16) of AEK Athens watches at the Karaiskakis Stadium. (Reuters photo)
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GREECE
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gk — MICHALIS SIFAKIS (FC Aris Thessaloniki)

df — NIKOS SPYROPOULOS (FC Panathinaikos Athens), AVRAAM PAPADOPOULOS (FC Olympiakos Piraeus), LOUKAS VYNTRA (FC Panathinaikos Athens), SOKRATIS PAPASTATHOPOULOS (AC Milan – Ita)

mf — KOSTAS KATSOURANIS (FC Panathinaikos Athens), PANTELIS KAFES (AEK Athens), GIORGOS KARAGOUNIS (FC Panathinaikos Athens), SOTIRIS NINIS (FC Panathinaikos Athens)

fw — GEORGIOS SAMARAS (Glasgow Celtic – Sct), DIMITRIS SALPIGIDIS (PAOK Thessaloniki)

substitutes
———————
mf — IOANNIS FETFATZIDIS (FC Olympiakos Piraeus) for Ninis — 15th min
fw — KOSTAS MITROGLU (FC Olympiakos Piraeus) for Samaras — 81st min
df — GIANNIS MANIATIS (GSS Panionios Athens) for Salpigdis — 87th min

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ISRAEL
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gk — DUDU AOUATE (Real Mallorca – Spa)

df — DEKEL KEINAN (FC Blackpool – Eng), RAMI GERSHON (KV Kortrijk – Bel), DANI BONDARV (FC Hapoel Tel Aviv)

mf — EYAL GOLSA (FC Maccabi Haifa), BEBERS NATCHO (FC Rubin Kazan – Rus), TAMIR COHEN (Bolton Wanderers – Eng), LIOR RAFAELOV (FC Maccabi Haifa), ALMOG COHEN (1.FC Nuremberg – Ger)

fw — ITAY SHECHTER (FC Hapoel Tel Aviv), ROBERTO COLAUTTI (FC Maccabi Tel Aviv)

substitutes
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mf — GIL VERMOUTH (FC Hapoel Tel Aviv) for Natcho — 63rd min
fw — ALROEY COHEN (Hapoel Ironi Kiryat Shmona) for T. Cohen — 70th min
fw — ELYANIV BARDA (Racing Genk – Bel) for Colautti — 76th min

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World Cup midfielder GEORGIOS KARAGOUNIS (10) of FC Panathinaikos Athens celebrates the eventual game-winning-strike, his seventh career international goal for Greece, from the penalty spot against Israel in the 63rd minute at the Karaiskakis Stadium in the Greek capital city. (Reuters photo)

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