FORTALEZA, Brazil (AP) — Georgios Samaras scored an injury-time penalty to put Greece into the second round of the World Cup with a 2-1 win over Ivory Coast on Tuesday.
Samaras was adjudged to have been tripped in the area by substitute Giovanni Sio, and calmly slotted in the spot kick for a win that puts Greece through to the knockout stage. Ivory Coast would have advanced with a draw.
“This means so much to me, to us … Tonight we had energy,” Samaras said, dedicating the win 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.”
The Greeks had taken the lead just before halftime through substitute Andreas Samaris, but substitute Wilfried Bony equalized for Ivory Coast in the 74th, beating goalkeeper Pangiotis Glykos from close range after being set up by Gervinho.
That goal looked like it would put the Africans through until the late drama. Samaras met a cross in the area and went to shoot with his left leg, which got caught against the leg of Sio. Samaras’ foot then hit the ground and he fell to the turf, drawing a penalty.
With his country’s hopes on the line, Samaras sent his spot kick past goalkeeper Boubacar Barry, who guessed the right way but couldn’t keep the ball out.
Veteran striker Didier Drogba started for Ivory Coast along with Yaya and Kolo Toure despite the recent death of their brother Ibrahim. The Ivorians wore black armbands as a sign of mourning.
Greece, which had failed to score in the previous two Group C matches, finished second in Group C with four points, behind winner Colombia with nine. Ivory Coast had three and Japan one.
Greece had not scored in its first two games in Brazil, but missed a handful of scoring chances against Ivory Coast, hitting the crossbar twice with shots from distance. The Greeks were also forced to make two early substitutions after valuable midfielder Pangiotis Kone and goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis were injured in the first half.
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