x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Greece benefit as Kaita loses marbles

Vassilis Torosidis scores Greece's winner as they beat Nigeria after the sending off of Sani Kaita for lashing out at Torosidis.

Greece came from behind against Nigeria to win their first World Cup match.
Greece came from behind against Nigeria to win their first World Cup match.

BLOEMFONTEIN // Vassilis Torosidis scored Greece's winner as they beat Nigeria 2-1 to seal their first ever World Cup victory and keep alive their chances of progressing from Group B. Torosidis pounced in the 71st minute after Dimitris Salpingidis's first-half strike had cancelled out a Kalu Uche free-kick for Nigeria, who also had Sani Kaita sent off. Nigeria grabbed the lead on 16 minutes when Uche's 35-metre free-kick floated past everyone, including stricken goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas, and nestled in the net.

The African side were in control until a moment of madness in the 33rd minute saw Kaita red carded for foolishly kicking out at Torosidis, the midfielder remorsefully walking off with his shirt over his head. The game turned immediately in Greece's favour. Their coach, Otto Rehhagel ,replaced defensive midfielder Socratis Papastathopoulos with striker Giorgos Samaras, who minutes later had a shot cleared off the line. Then came an equaliser.

Salpingidis etched his name into Greek record books by scoring his country's first ever World Cup goal with a 44th minute strike that wickedly deflected off Nigeria midfielder Haruna Lukman before flying into the net. Salpingidis, who celebrated jubilantly with the whole Greek squad, had previously scored the winner in the World Cup play-off against Ukraine to take his country to South Africa. The second half started at frantic pace. The Greek striker Fanis Gekas was superbly denied by Nigeria's goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, while at the other end substitute Chinedu Obasi missed an open goal after a swift Nigeria counter-attack.

With their usual defensive approach firmly abandoned, Greece went close again through Samaras before Torosidis stabbed home a second after Enyeama had spilled a low Alexandros Tziolis shot. Greece's win puts them on three points with South Korea, who earlier lost 4-1 to table-topping Argentina earlier in the day, while Nigeria have no points from two games. Greece had lost all four of their previous World Cup games without scoring. * Reuters

Group B
Country M W D L GF GA Pts
Argentina 2 2 0 0 5 1 6
South Korea 2 1 0 1 3 4 3
Greece 2 1 0 1 2 3 3
Nigeria 2 0 0 2 1 3 0