Disappointed Greece coach Michael Skibbe admitted that his team gifted Croatia victory as they went down to a poor 4-1 loss in the first leg of the crucial World Cup playoff tie in Zagreb.
A Lucas Modric penalty awarded after a woeful mistake by Greece goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis, followed by goals from Nikola Kalinic, Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric helped the impressive home side to a comfortable win which puts them in pole position for a place at Russia 2018 next summer.
It all means that the Greeks now face an impossible task of overturning a three-goal deficit in the second leg at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium in Athens on Sunday.
“Things are very difficult for us now, we made lots of mistakes today,” the German coach told Cosmote TV.
“In particular for the first and fourth goals, we gave two gifts in effect to Croatia, who I must also admit were better than us overall. We have a few days until the next match so we’ll work hard and do what we can. I know it’s difficult but I will stay optimistic. We are not totally out of it yet and we’ll try our best.”
Greece captain Sokratis Papastathopoulos, who scored a consolation goal for a poor Greece team – who were in a rare self-destruct mood in a mistake-laden display in which few players came away with any credit, admitted the team did not turn up.
“We weren’t the team we should have been tonight; yes Croatia were better than us but this is the first time we have made so many mistakes in one match,” said the Borussia Dortmund defender.
“I wouldn’t say that it was a problem with the system we were playing or the coach. There were simply too many individual mistakes which we don’t usually make,” he added.
“On Sunday I hope we can get the stadium full. A place at the World Cup is 90% lost, but we have to show that we are not the kind of team who loses 4-1. We’ll play as if the score from the first leg was 0-0 and try to end this campaign with our heads held high.”
By Graham Wood
Image Source: onsports.gr
*For more sport news head to agonasport.com