Two goals by Kostas Mitroglou helped Greece defeat Austria 2-0 in this international friendly between European squads.
For the first 30 minutes of the match Austria appeared to be the more dominant side. It controlled possession but was unable to finish opportunities on the attack.
This left an opening for Greece to take the lead at the 39-minute mark. A long pass by Kostas Katsouranis on the counterattack sent the ball to Mitroglou, who bullied his way through two defenders to score the opening goal.
Analyst Eric Willemsen explains how this is a regular strategy for Greece:
Classic Greek couterattack makes it 0-1 (Mitroglou) as Austria dominates possession - but that does every team against Greece. #AUTGRE— Eric Willemsen (@eWilmedia) August 14, 2013
The visiting squad was then able to hold off the opposing attack for the rest of the half and throughout the second half.
After halftime, Greece was able to double its lead when Mitroglou scored his second goal of the match on an absolute laser to the top-right corner of the net in the 67th minute.
While Austria had a number of solid opportunities to score late in the match, it was unable to get anything past the opposing defense and fell 2-0.
This is a disappointing outcome for the host country, although it is certainly not the first team to struggle to score against the Greek defense. However, it provides a nice benchmark for both sides as they look to advance in World Cup qualifying.
Neither side is in great shape at the moment in qualifying, but each still has a decent shot of reaching the prestigious tournament.
Greece is three points behind Bosnia-Herzegovina in its group, although grabbing that second spot seems likely. It will then have to win a playoff to qualify for Brazil.
Austria will also hope to get the second spot in the group with Germany owning a significant lead. Of course, with Sweden and Ireland also battling for second place, advancing will not be easy.
Still, each team was able to see plenty of positives and negatives in this outing to work for better performances the next time they play.
Kostas Mitroglou, Greece: A+
The Olympiakos forward has been a solid contributor throughout qualifying for Greece, but he was not always getting starts in the lineup. Based on his play in this one, he should be in the lineup every time out.
Mitroglou scored two goals on the day to help his side get the win, and each one showcased his natural talent near the net. This is something that will be quite valuable for a squad that sometimes struggles to score.
Jose Holebas, Greece: A
Not only did the defender help set up the second goal with a solid pass, but Holebas was also solid on defense to make sure Austria remained scoreless.
The veteran player has been a leader for this national team and must remain solid for it to qualify for the World Cup.
David Alaba, Austria: B-
When you are the best player on your team, the expectations are raised to the point where you have to produce every time out. David Alaba was unable to do that for Austria in this match.
The youngster is forced to play more of an offensive role for this squad compared to his usual role at Bayern Munich, but he still did little to help his side in this scoreless effort.
Roster info courtesy of ESPN
Roster info courtesy of ESPN
Both teams restart World Cup qualifying on Sept. 6. Greece will look to get three points against Liechtenstein, who is currently the worst team in the group.
Austria has a much harder match ahead with a road match against Germany. If the squad can get any points in that one, it will be a huge boost going forward.
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