Greece vs. Ivory Coast: World Cup Group C Score, Grades and Post-Match Reaction

Alex LivieFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2014

Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Georgios Samaras scored an injury-time penalty for Greece to beat Ivory Coast 2-1 in Fortaleza on Tuesday and book their position in the second round of the World Cup.

Greece looked down and out after Wilfried Bony had climbed off the bench to cancel out Andreas Samaris’ goal, but Samaras was felled in the box by Giovanni Sio and the forward dusted himself down to slot the ball home.

Not sure Ivory Coast deserved to go through, given Greece hit the woodwork three times, but that's a desperate way to go out.

— Jonathan Wilson (@jonawils) June 24, 2014

The win secured second spot in Group C and with it a meeting with Costa Rica in the second round.

Ivory Coast started Didier Drogba after two substitute appearances, and he began the game like a player with a point to prove.

On two occasions in the first 10 minutes, he picked up the ball in deep positions and left defenders in his path. Sadly for Ivory Coast, Gervinho, who had been so impressive so far, was let down by his touch on each occasion and the chances went begging.

Greece were dealt an early blow as Panagiotis Kone was forced off with a hamstring injury. That was not the end of Greece’s troubles, as keeper Orestis Karnezis was forced off with a back complaint.

Two subs down, Karnezis off, this is bad for Greece. Gervinho's touch so far is good for Greece.

— Paul (@UtdRantcast) June 24, 2014

Greece shrugged off the setbacks and came close to taking the lead in the 35th minute. From an Ivory Coast corner, Fernando Santos' side countered at lighting speed.

Ivory Coast’s defenders could not keep track of the break, and they were grateful to see Jose Holebas’ fierce strike rattle the crossbar.

For all their attacking dynamism, Ivory Coast have mistakes in them, and it was an error from Cheick Toite that handed Greece the lead.

The Newcastle midfielder was sloppy in giving the ball away, and Samaris made him pay by galloping clear and slotting home.

Samaris' goal to put Greece ahead of the Ivory Coast: #WorldCup #GREvsCIV #GRE

— World Soccer Talk (@worldsoccertalk) June 24, 2014

Yaya Toure’s Manchester City drive has been lacking in Brazil. There was a glimpse shortly before the interval when he powered forward from the right, slicing past defenders in the process. But just as he was about to pull the trigger the ball got stuck under his feet, and Greece were able to get in a telling block.

Tiote attempted to atone for his error early in the second half, but his fierce drive was straight at substitute keeper Panagiotis Glykos.

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 24:  Wilfried Bony of the Ivory Coast (C) celebrates scoring his team's first goal with Yaya Toure (L) and Gervinho during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Group C match between Greece and the Ivory Coast at Castelao on June 24, 201
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Giorgos Karagounis is a chiseled veteran of Greek national team adventures. He went within a whisker of putting the game beyond Ivory Coast on 69 minutes when smashing a long-range drive against the crossbar.

Ivory Coast looked to be wilting as the Greeks continued to threaten on the break, but coach Sabri Lamouchi’s substitution paid off on 74 minutes.

Bony was thrown on and he slotted home a low cross from Gervinho to net the goal that momentarily put Ivory Coast back into second place in the group.

Greece kept pressing and with time running out, Sio felled Samaras when he looked set to shoot on goal, and referee Carlos Vera pointed to the spot for a penalty kick.

Samaras was ice cool as he slotted beyond Boubacar Barry to take Greece into the knockout stages for the first time in their history.

Greece will lock horns with Group D winners Costa Rica.

On the form shown so far in the group stage, Greece will need to up their level to get the better of Costa Rica, who took the scalps of Italy and Uruguay on the way to topping Group D.

Greece, who have scored in just two of their nine World Cup games in their history, could have a tough time breaking down a Costa Rican side that have conceded only one goal in this tournament. 

Greece Player Ratings
Player1st-half Rating2nd-half Rating
Orestis Karnezis6-
Vasilis Torosidis66
Kostas Manolas77
Sokratis Papastathopoulos77
Jose Holebas77
Giannis Maniatis66.5
Panagiotis Kone6-
Giorgos Karagounis77
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos56
Georgios Samaras77.6
Dimitrios Salpingidis56
Andreas Samaris87
Panagiotis Glykos6
Theofanis Gekas6
Ivory Coast Player Ratings
Player1st-half Rating2nd-half Rating
Boubacar Barry66
Serge Aurier77
Kolo Toure66.5
Sol Bamba56
Arthur Boka77
Cheick Tiote45.5
Serey Die56
Yaya Toure5.55.5
Salomon Kalou5.55.5
Didier Drogba6.56
Wilfried Bony7
Ismael Diomande6
Giovanni Sio4

Post-Match Reaction

Greece’s hero Samaras spoke to the BBC after the game had finished:

I think we controlled the game most of the time. We created chances, scored a goal, hit the post three times.

We tried in the last 15 minutes to win so we gave everything we had. In the end the luck was on our side. I am proud, really proud.


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