Greece’s hopes reach the Finnish line

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Greece added another home loss to its string of disappointing results in the Euro 2016 qualifiers on Friday going down 1-0 to visiting Finland and getting mathematically eliminated from next summer’s finals in France.

In its first competitive game with caretaker coach Costas Tsanas in charge, Greece produced an attacking game for most of the match at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, but could not translate its dominance into goals.

Playing with several attack-minded players and a 4-2-3-1 formation with Costas Mitroglou up front, the national team enjoyed plenty of possession to please the 12,000 fans that attended the game.

Yet chance after chance went begging, particularly in the first half, and Finland punished its wasteful host on the 74th minute: Unmarked Joel Pohjanpalo capitalized on a clearance by Sokratis Papastathopoulos inside the box and slotted the ball into the Orestis Karnezis net to score against the run of play.

The heavy legs of the Greek players would not allow them to claw their way back into the game, making defeats a thing of a habit for the national team these days.

This was the third home loss for Greece in as many games at the Karaiskakis Stadium in this campaign, without having scored a single goal in front of its fans either.

The omens were actually negative before kick-off, as the Greek fans and players waiting to hear the national anthem from the stadium’s PA system were initially treated to a second hearing of the Finnish anthem. A few seconds of eerie silence followed before the fans started singing the anthem by themselves. Eventually the Greek federation officials found the right tape and played the Greek anthem; actually most of it, not all of it.

Greece’s players may look forward to hearing the entire anthem on Monday when they face Romania in Bucharest.

EKATHIMERINI

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