Martin Skrtel gifts Greece a chance to qualify for the World Cup

Doug Pensinger

In what was a dominant game for Greece, Martin Skrtel scored an own goal to give the hosts the victory they needed to keep pace with Bosnia-Herzegovina in Group G.

One of the most critical games of the campaign took place for Greece when they met Slovakia in Athens on Friday. The hosts maintained superiority for most of the match, interjected with brief periods of Slovakian possession, and clinched a crucial 1-0 victory.

The victory leaves Greece on 22 points level with Bosnia but significantly behind on goal difference. Should both teams win their respective matches on Tuesday, Bosnia will qualify directly. The other four teams in the group have been eliminated.

The match started with Greece going forward. With five minutes they won a free kick with Alexandros Tziolis presiding over the ball. He aimed at the far post and nearly scored but Jan Mucha saved on the line. Five minutes later, the towering Greek midfielder fired from long range only to find his attempt deflect and go over a stranded Mucha.

Greece's onslaught continued and twenty minutes later, Dimitrios Salpingidis found space and fired from long range but Mucha was again on hand.

The visitors sank themselves as Martin Skrtel received the ball from a teammate and back passed to his goalkeeper. Mucha misinterpreted, lifted his foot, and the ball rolled into the net.

After the break, Greece came out on a full attack with Georgios Samaras, Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, and Jose Holebas exchanging runs and passes into the Slovakian box.

At the hour mark, a scramble in the Slovakian box allowed Kostas Mitroglou to flick the ball towards the near post only for a goal line save from Tomas Hubocan.

As time began to deteriorate, the visitors launched attacks but to no avail. Greece remained highly organized and continued to dominate possession.

Impact Players

Lazarous Christodoulopoulos: He made several big runs down the left flank was was instrumental in keeping the pressure on the visitors

Kostas Manolas: Long ignored for his talents, he had an incredible performance at center-back by making several very important clearances while thwarting Slovakian attacks.

Greece host Liechtenstein on Tuesday while Slovakia travel to Lithuania and Bosnia-Herzegovina will be guests to Lithuania to wrap up Group G.

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