Underdogs hold Spain to a draw with battling performance


Spain's Fernando Morientes puts the ball past Greek goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis for his team's first goal. - AFPpic

PORTO: Greece continued to upset the odds at Euro 2004 when they came from behind to force a battling 1-1 draw with fancied Spain in their second Group A match at the Bessa Stadium here yesterday. 

A 66th-minute goal from Angelos Haristeas cancelled out a strike by Spain forward Fernando Morientes to leave the Greeks, who pulled off a shock 2-1 win over hosts Portugal in the tournament's opening match, top of the standings. 

Greece and Spain both have four points from their opening two games and retain serious hopes of reaching the quarter-finals. 

“We made our only error in the second half and it cost us a draw,” Spain coach Inaki Saez said.  

“We attacked well but we just weren't able to finish off some promising moves. We had the game within our grasp.” 

Spain settled first and deservedly led at the break after Morientes' classy strike. 

His former Real Madrid teammate, Raul, set up the goal after intercepting a loose ball from Michalis Kapsis on the edge of the penalty area. 

Raul, causing the Greek defence problems throughout, back-heeled the ball to Morientes, who cleverly made space, gliding past two defenders before powering a drive past Greek goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis. 

Greece's Angelos Haristeas reels off in delight after scoring the equaliser. - Reuterspic

Greece's goal came out of nothing when a long raking pass from the right by midfielder Vassilis Tsartas found striker Haristeas, who controlled the ball well and fired past goalkeeper Iker Casillas for the equaliser. 

The match ebbed and flowed between both penalty areas in an exciting second half. 

Raul had a great chance to put Spain 2-0 ahead but sent his free header high over the bar. 

In the main, though, Spain just about controlled the game and with Carles Puyol outstanding at the back and David Albelda anchoring the midfield, Greece were largely restricted to speculative long-range efforts. 

Typical was a 30m drive from Greek skipper Theodoros Zagorakis, which just flew past the post. 

Winger Joaquin was excellent for Spain when he replaced Joseba Etxeberria at half time. 

The first half proved costly in terms of bookings for both teams. A second yellow card of the tournament for Georgios Karagounis means he will miss Greece's next match against Russia on Sunday, while Spanish defender Carlos Marchena was booked for a late tackle on Karagounis and is ruled out of his side's game against Portugal. – Reuters 

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