Samaras’ penalty in the dying seconds of the match results in heartbreak for Didier Drogba and Co.
A dramatic finish at Fortaleza saw Greece go through after two pulsating halves of football.
Cote d’Ivoire came into the match knowing that a draw would be enough to see them through and it certainly looked so till the very end. The Ethniki’s, however knew that only a win would ensure them a spot in the round of 16.
Both the Toure brothers started, despite the untimely death of their younger brother and the talismanic Didier Drogba also found himself in the opening eleven. His former Chelsea strike partner, Salomon Kalou also started upfront with him. Other big names included Roma’s Gervinho and young Toulouse right back Serge Aurier.
It was hardly a dream start for Fernando Santos as Kone and goalkeeper Karnezi both had to be substituted within the opening half hour forced by injuries.
However the first real chance of the game did come for Greece as Holebas hit the crossbar after a quick break. The crossbar would not come to the rescue 9 minutes later, as Samaris who had come on for Kone opened the scoring. Check Tiote caught in possession and Samaras assists Samaris who makes no mistake with a low shot going under Ivory Coast goalkeeper Barry and into the net.
The first half ends with Greece up by a goal.
The second half started better for Greece as they look to threaten on the counter while Ivory Coast squander chances even though they are ahead in possession. Lazaros’ shoots after gliding through with the ball and it is agonizingly close. Salpingidis also has his long range effort tipped over for a corner.
Ivory Coast introduce Wilfried Bony hoping to add some spark to their attack. Kalou’s effort is narrowly wide as Karagounis rattles the crossbar on the other end almost immediately. End to end stuff at Fortaleza.
Bony’s introduction certainly made a difference and he finds himself on the score sheet after coolly slotting Gervinho’s neatly squared cut-back into the back off the net.
A not so normal celebration by Barry
Greece are not giving up as Torosidis hits the post from a narrow angle. That’s the third time the woodwork has denied Greece tonight. Salpingidis flashes one across the face of goal. Any touch would have seen it into the back of the net. Agonizingly close for Greece and not much time left on the clock for them to find a winner.
Greece pour forward and their efforts seem to have been rewarded. Samaras is tripped in the box by Sio and the referee points to the spot. A harsh call and replays show that Samaras may have tripped on his own. The Celtic man makes no mistake and Greece are through with a win.
So close and yet so far for The Elephants. They were mere seconds away from going through. Heartbreak for them after a harshly judged penalty sees them eliminated.
A fairy tale ending for Greece however. They played superbly in this match and grab a spot in the next round where they will face Costa Rica.
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