Jun 19, 2014; Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, BRAZIL; Greece defender Jose Holebas (20) and Japan forward Yoshito Okubo (13) battle for the ball during the second half of their 0-0 tie in a 2014 World Cup game at Estadio das Dunas. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

World Cup: Greece Advances To Knockout Round, Defeat Ivory Coast 2-1

The Greek national team has a reputation for playing some very effective but very boring football, they’ve a reputation of gaining an advantage and ‘parking the bus’, or placing all 11 men behind the ball and defending like mad. It may not be beautiful football, but it can be effective. Entering their match against the Ivory Coast and knowing a win (and a helping hand in the Japan/Colombia match) would be necessary to stay in the World Cup, many assumed the Greeks would push for a lead, then sit back and try to defend the lead to the death. It also seems reasonable to assume that a nation like the Ivory Coast with its goal scoring stars would be able to break down the Greek defense.

Yet in this instance the Greeks drew first blood. A defensive miscue by Cheick Tiote and Andreas Samaris made the Ivorians pay, burying the ball in the back of the net for his first international goal. Greece would hold on to the lead and belief that they could advance into halftime, and surely the halftime talk focused on maintaining their defensive discipline and securing the result that would see them through.

In the 74th minute, substitute Wilfried Bony of Swansea City scored to level the playing field, keeping the Ivory Coast in line to advance to the knockout round.

Yet with 30 seconds left in stoppage time a penalty was awarded to Greece, and up stepped Georgios Samras. The veteran midfielder buried his penalty above the outstretched hands of the Ivorian keeper, and Greece celebrated advancing to the knockout round for the first time in team history.

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Tags: Greece World Cup Ivory Coast World Cup World Cup

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