Greece got their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign off to an ideal start on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Liechtenstein at the Rheinpark Stadion in Vaduz.
Kostas Fortounis opened the scoring for Angelos Anastasiadis’ team in this Group J clash on the stroke of half-time, and Tasos Donis smashed home a second with 10 minutes left to seal all three points.
The Greeks got off to a slow start but after the goal they dominated proceedings in the second half and created several good chances to add more goals to their lead, but a combination of poor finishing and solid goalkeeper from Benjamin Buchel kept the score down to just two.
Greece play their second fixture against Bosnia-Herzegovina at the Stadion Bilino Polje in Zenica.
In other Group J action, Italy defeated Finland 2-0 while Bosnia edged out Armenia with a 2-1 scoreline in Zenica.
Greece came into the match looking to get their campaign off to a winning start against a team who have never scored against them, with the Greeks winning all of their three previous encounters.
But the early stages offered little to suggest that Greece were going to find the going easy against a well-organised home side.
While the visitors enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, chances were few and far between in the opening 45 minutes, with the best chances coming in the latter stages of the half after Kostas Mitroglou had limped off with a calf injury.
Fortounis fired just wide with a snapshot, while Giorgos Masouras blazed wastefully over the crossbar from close range when the ball fell kindly to the Olympiacos forward, and Tasos Donis had a header saved by home goalkeeper Benjamin Buchel.
Just when it seemed the teams would go into the dressing rooms at 0-0, the Greeks finally got a breakthrough.
Dimitris Kourbelis picked out the run of Fortounis with a searching long ball. Fortounis escaped his marker and showed great composure to watch the ball over his shoulder and volley it low past a helpless Buchel in the Lichtenstein goal.
Greece upped the tempo in the second half and began to pepper the Liechtenstein goal with shots, and it only seemed a matter of time before another goal would come.
And although it took longer than expected, a second goal finally came in the 80th minute when Masouras picked out Donis’ intelligent run with a clever lofted pass. Stuttgart forward Donis chested the ball on before lashing a vicious volley past Buchel.
Liechtenstein: 1 B Büchel (GK), 3 Göppel, 4 Kaufmann, 10 Wieser, 11 Salanovic, 13 M. Büchel, 17 Gubser, 18 Hasler, 20 S. Wolfinger, 22 Rechsteiner, 23 Polverino (C)
Greece: 1 Vlachodimos (GK), 2 Bakakis, 5 Siovas, 8 Zeca, 10 Fortounis, 11 Mitroglou (C), 14 Bakasetas, 16 Masouras, 21 Kourbelis, 22 Samaris, 23 Koutris
GROUP J STANDINGS
Greece 3 (2:0)
Italy 3 (2:0)
Bosnia 3 (2:1)
Armenia 0 (1:2)
HIGHLIGHTS: LIECHTENSTEIN – GREECE
by Graham Wood
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