Group C, Match 6
Greece will face Costa Rica in the last 16 of the World Cup after a last-minute penalty from Georgios Samaras sealed a 2-1 win over Cote d'Ivoire on Tuesday, reports Goal.com.
Needing a win to qualify in Fortaleza on Tuesday, Greece left it late, with Samaras' 93rd-minute spot-kick sealing their progression in dramatic circumstances.
The penalty was given after the forward was tripped by Giovanni Sio and the Celtic man dusted himself down before scoring to Boubacar Barry's left.
A draw would have been enough for Cote d'Ivoire to progress and that looked likely when Wilfried Bony came off the bench to level proceedings with 16 minutes left.
Greece had initially taken the lead through Andreas Samaris – an early replacement for the injured Panagiotis Kone – in the 42nd minute.
They had also hit the bar earlier, through Jose Holebas, and the woodwork was to deny them again in the second half as Giorgos Karagounis saw his 35-yard strike bounce away to safety.
But Greece claimed a deserved win as Samaras kept his nerve, setting up a clash with Costa Rica in the round of 16.
Yaya and Kolo Toure both started, after deciding to stay in Brazil following the death of their brother, while captain Didier Drogba made his first start of the tournament, replacing Bony.
Greece's start was thrown into disarray by two forced substitutions inside the first 30 minutes, as Kone and goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis suffered injuries.
But they almost took the lead in the 33rd minute from a quick break, as Holebas – played in following Samaras' well-weighted through-ball – saw his fierce strike come back off the crossbar.
The goal frame did not come to the rescue of Barry nine minutes later, though.
A stray pass from Cheick Tiote saw Samaris pounce, and he combined well with Samaras before coolly slotting past the goalkeeper.
Cote d'Ivoire continued to control possession but failed to convert it into regular chances, as their opponents looked more decisive in attack.
Greece's threat on the counter only grew as the second half progressed and Cote d'Ivoire were rescued by the bar for a second time with 22 minutes to go, when captain Karagounis tried his luck from 35 yards.
The introduction of Bony gave the Africans another dimension and after wasting a pair of half-chances, the Swansea City forward drew his side level, producing a composed first-time finish after Gervinho's clever cut-back.
But it was the Greeks who looked more likely to score the winner, as Dimitrios Salpingidis flashed an effort wide, before Sio's foul gave Samaras the chance to be a hero.
And it was an opportunity he took with both hands, slotting past Barry to earn Fernando Santos' side a place in the next round.
FT: GRE 2-1 CIV - This World Cup just keeps on giving doesn't it? A 93rd minute penalty puts the Europeans through, and the Africans out at this stage for the third consecutive World Cup. Drama here in Fortaleza. And Greece somehow have earned a ticket to the last 16.
Man of the Match: G Samaras (GRE)
Match Commentary - as it happened
FULL-TIME: Greece 2-1 Ivory Coast
90' + 3' Penalty Goal Georgios Samaras
90' + 3' GOAL! Greece 2-1 Ivory Coast - GOAL FOR GREECE! SAMARAS SCORES! Greece are through to the last 16 of the World Cup. What drama here, Ivory Coast are out! They were seconds away also!
90' + 2' PENALTY to GREECE - Dramatic moment unfolding here in Fortaleza. Sio has felled Samaras, and if Greece score here, they are through!
90' + 1' PENALTY TO GREECE - WHAT DRAMA!
90' We are into the first of three added minutes in Fortaleza.
83' Substitution: Gervinho out, Giovanni-Guy Yann Sio in.
80' TOROSIDIS! OFF THE POST! Third time tonight for Greece, and will they look back on that miss and wonder? In truth, it reflects badly on the Ivorian defence as Torosidis has a pop from a narrow angle. Barry caught out, but luckily for him, it comes off the woodwork!
78' Substitution: Didier Drogba out, Ismael Diomande in.
78' Substitution: Georgios Karagounis out, Theofanis Gekas in.
78' SUBSTITUTION - IVORY COAST: Didier Drogba leaves to raucous applause, and is replaced by Ismael Diomande.
77' SUBSTITUTION - Greece: Georgios Karagounis departs, and is replaced by Theo Gekas. The legendary Greek midfielder might have played his last for Greece, certainly at a World Cup.
75' Well, it makes for a very interesting last 15 minutes at a packed Estadio Castelao. 59,000 fans inside to watch this match. Greece need to go for the jugular. They will rue their missed chances, now.
75' AS IT STANDS: We now have Ivory Coast back into second place, and they look set to qualify if they hold on to this. Colombia with nine points have run away with the group. The Africans in second with four, Greece with two and Japan with one.
74' Assist Gervinho
74' Goal Wilfried Bony
GOAL! Greece 1-1 Ivory Coast! What a move. What a goal by Wilfried Bony - and the Ivory Coast are back into the driving seat. Toure finds Gervinho with a searching pass, but he is played onside. Gervinho squares it with ease, and Bony does the rest.
71' LAZAROS! It's just over the bar! A fine free-kick from the Ethniki, and it whistles over Barry's bar by mere inches. Greece have impressed in the last few minutes, mirroring their Euro 2012 success against Russia.
70' Yellow Card G. Serey Die
68' KARAGOUNIS! OFF THE CROSSBAR! What a stunning effort from the midfielder! He has to be more than 35 metres out there, but he rattles a fine effort off the crossbar, with Barry beaten.
67' KALOU! Great chance for the Ivory Coast! Kalou dribbles past the challenge of Salpingidis and Torosidis, before attempting to curl one towards the far post. It eventually goes narrowly wide.
65' Bony again, with a chance to do some damage in the box, after a speculative cross arrives. He fails to make good contact with the ball, with his touch letting him down before the ball is cleared. Frustrating.
64' Bony with an effort, but he strikes it high, wide, and not very handsomely. Poor touch from the Swansea striker. His country will be looking to him for some inspiration, as they move to the brink of a World Cup exit.
63' Free-kick taken by Karagounis. Slammed against the wall, which does its job well. And the follow-up fired wide by Torosidis. Greece still of course, lead 1-0.
62' Yellow Card Salomon Kalou
62' SUBSTITUTION - Ivory Coast: Wilfried Bony is on for Cheikh Tiote. They're going for it. And they need to.
61' Substitution: Cheikh Tiote out, Wilfried Bony in.
61' YELLOW CARD - Kalou (CIV). The Lille attacker takes one for the team, as he hauls down Salpingidis, who had a clean shot to goal. Greece were on the break, and in a promising 3 v 2 situation. They have a free-kick instead.
60' Aurier once more getting into key positions, but his delivery into the danger zone is poor. Nevertheless, he has won a corner. Taken by Yaya Toure, it is also nowhere near his best, as Greece break - and at speed.
59' GOALFLASH: Japan 1-2 Colombia - Jose Pekerman's side have retaken the lead through Jackson Martinez. Nevertheless, it makes no difference to this game. Greece still in the driving seat.
57' SALPINGIDIS! Lovely shot from distance, and it is hurtling towards goal. Met by an even better save by Boubacar Barry, who tips it over for a corner. Opening up, this fixture.
56' Half-chance for Ivory Coast! Glykos flirts with danger as he heads poorly straight into the path of Kalou who has to get his composure right. Maniatis gets the block in, before Manolas clears the ball!
54' Gervinho again setting the pace on the right-wing. Space opens up briefly, but Sokratis gets his body in front of the ball to deflect it away. Great defending from the Dortmund man.
53' LAZAROS! Greece could've had two! Fine play from the midfielder. He drives at the Ivorian defence, before feigning a shot. Cuts in past Sol Bamba, but slices his effort narrowly wide.
51' Ivory Coast plying on the pressure on the Greek defence. Gervinho picks up the ball before racing into the box with a series of successful dribbles. However, he attempts to cut in past Maniatis, before Glykos takes possession of the loose ball.
50' TIOTE! More attacking creativity from the Elephants, which is intriguing to see. Lovely move which incorporates a number of players, before the Newcastle midfielder sees a long range effort well saved by the goalkeeper.
49' AURIER! Lovely cross from the Toulouse full-back, who picks out Drogba arriving at the far post. The former Chelsea star jumps unfairly with goalkeeper Glykos, and the referee has awarded a free-kick the other way.
47' Good early pressure from Greece, who are in no rush to add to their lead. Set-piece from Karagounis, who picks out Salpingdis at the far post. The header eventually comes off Cheikh Tiote for a corner.
46' The game is underway in the second half in Fortaleza. A big second half for both of these teams, one of which will certainly be going home by the end of the night.
HT: GRE 1-0 CIV - It took a while to get going, but we have an interesting scenario unfolding here. Greece take the lead with a Samaris goal, but they have already used two of their three substitutions after injuries to Kone and goalkeeper Karnezis. Ivory Coast have had plenty of chances, but Greece deservedly lead.
45' + 4' HALF-TIME: Greece 1-0 Ivory Coast (Samaris 42')
45' + 2' GOALFLASH: Japan 1-1 Colombia. Shinji Okazaki heads in an equaliser for the Samurai Blue. As it stands, nothing changes. Greece in second place, Ivory Coast in third. Japan can realistically only qualify if they beat Colombia and hope there is a favourable result here.
45' + 1' We could have the scenario where Greece could conceivably go through into the last 16 with just one goal scored. They will need to hold an Ivory Coast attack that includes Gervinho, Drogba and Kalou at arm's length if they are to manage it, however. Doing well so far.
45' There will be have four minutes of injury time at the end of the first half in Fortaleza.
44' TOURE! Ivory Coast rallying, but they cannot find an immediate reply. Yaya Toure darts into the box, turning in his marker, but his shot cannons off Maniatis, before Greece hurry the ball away.
43' AS IT STANDS: Colombia are leading against Japan. They have nine points. Greece now take second, with four, Ivory Coast with three and Japan with one. Fernando Santos' men have turned it around!
42' Assist Georgios Samaras
42' Goal Andreas Samaris
42' GOAL! Greece 1-0 Ivory Coast - Here we go! Greece take the lead, and score their first goal at this World Cup! A nice move, against the run of play. Tiote caught in possession and Samaris combines with Samaras, with the substitute firing low under Barry.
40' Chance for Ivory Coast, but they cannot find the killer touch! Boka with a ball in the box, but he cannot find Toure or Drogba, who are lurking inside. Greece get the ball away.
38' Approaching half-time in what has been a rather turgid encounter in Fortaleza, but things are opening up. Kalou reprimanded for a high foot on Holebas. Looks like a soft decision from the referee.
37' Yellow Card Didier Drogba
37' YELLOW CARD - Didier Drogba (CIV). The Ivory Coast captain is booked for a strong challenge on Samaris, which sends the substitute flying. Could be a costly booking for the Elephants.
35' Fernando Santos' men showing promise now, as they seek the lead. Torosidis whips in a cross from the right wing, with Barry making a rather unnecessary acrobatic save. Their defence looks a bit shaky at the moment.
34' Free-kick to Greece on the edge of the area after Samaras was felled in the aftermath of that Holebas strike. They are looking more menacing, but the set-piece is poor, with Barry making a comfortable save.
33' HOLEBAS! OFF THE CROSSBAR! Real chance for Greece! They break away after a poor corner, as the left-back feeds onto a neat pass, and beats Kolo Toure. But his effort cannons off the crossbar!
31' BOKA! Great delivery from the left-back, and Sokratis stretches to divert that away. Ivory Coast showing a lot of promise, especially from the flanks.
29' Those expecting early goals from the African side might re-evaluate their expectations. Eight of Ivory Coast’s 12 goals at the World Cup have been scored after the 60th minute of games.
27' Foul on Gervinho, and the free-kick is awarded to Sabri Lamouchi's side, who look to consolidate possession. With the group situation pretty favourable to them, the African side are unsurprisingly conservative in their approach.
26' Still 0-0 here at Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza. The match has been punctuated by stoppages, and neither side have really have impressed offensively. Not looking like a high-scoring encounter!
24' Substitution: Orestis Karnezis out, Panagiotis Glykos in.
24' SUBSTITUTION - GREECE: Karnezis is off, and has been replaced by Glykos.
23' Nope, Karnezis is coming off. Cannot manage the injury. Greece are preparing their second substitution, both forced by injury!
22' YAYA TOURE! Ivory Coast with a great goalscoring opportunity. He gets the better of Sokratis with his drive through the middle. Sets up Drogba with a heavy through ball, and the captain cannot reach it. Goal-kick. Poor pass from Toure in a brilliant area.
20' We continue in Fortaleza after that lengthy stoppage. Greece in possession, and looking comfortable at the moment. Nevertheless, they require urgency, with anything other than a win, sealing their return home.
19' GOALFLASH: Japan 0-1 Colombia in the other game. Los Cafeteros lead thanks to Juan Cuadrado's penalty. As it stands, Ivory Coast qualify, with Greece on two points and Japan on one.
18' Lengthy treatment for Karnezis here, but it appears that despite all of the physio's efforts to get him ready, it might be a ploy to get the substitute goalkeeper ample time to prepare. But Karnezis looks set to pick up the gloves and give it another go!
17' Karnezis has gone down unopposed in the box, with the action nowhere near him. The goalkeeper has signalled for the physio, and pointing at his back. Are Greece set to make a second substitution through injury? It looks that way.
16' Lamouchi's men on the back foot. Quick attacking play, driven by Salpingidis on the right hand side, but the cross is way over-hit. Disappointing move.
15' Gervinho showing glimpses of quality on the far side, but nothing that materializes into something serious as the ball flies high and wide of Karnezis' goal.
14' SALPINGIDIS! Good take from Boubacar Barry. Threatening cross from the right, down low right into the six-yard area. The goalkeeper races off his line to claim that right at the feet of the attacker.
12' Substitution: Panagiotis Kone out, Andreas Samaris in.
12' SUBSTITUTION - GREECE: Early change after Kone fails to recover from a hamstring knock. Replaced by Andreas Samaris, who earns his sixth cap.
11' Break in play here. Panagiotis Kone is suffering with a hamstring injury and looks set to be replaced. Early blow for Fernando Santos' men.
10' All eyes will be on Serge Aurier, the Ivorian right-back, in this game. He notched two assists in the 2-1 win over Japan, and has been linked with a move away from Ligue 1 side Toulouse.
9' GERVINHO! Great football from the Ivory Coast. Gervinho and Drogba combine, as the Roma winger sets the pace with a superb run towards goal. Manolas does well to track back and see it behind for a corner.
8' Drogba, who starts for the first time in this World Cup, is clutching his head after a coming together with a Greek opponent, but both will continue. Possession with the Europeans, but Holebas loses possession after a darting run.
6' Lamouchi's side look to press after a Greek move breaks down. Kalou leads the charge, finding Gervinho on the wing. The former Arsenal man stumbles on the ball before Yaya Toure arrives to help, but the Greeks eventually get a goal-kick.
5' Free-kick to Greece as the noise builds. Whipped in towards Torosidis, but Drogba heads it away. Free-kick subsequently awarded the other way after an infringement from the Greek right-back.
4' And it is the Ivorians who rally again. Kalou leaves Karagounis on the floor, and picks up Boka who delivers in a teasing cross. Karnezis watches it go all the way behind following a poor ball in.
3' Not a reserved start as you might have expected, with Greece going for the jugular early on. Swift passing towards the left flank, with Lazaros whipping in a cross from the left. Boubacar Barry rushes out to claim with ease.
2' Kone buckles under a heavy challenge but the Ivorians continue to press on early. Boka with a searching pass for Drogba, but Manolas has it covered.
1' Ivory Coast get us started, attacking from right to left in their change strip of all green. Greece in all white. Here we go in the final round of games in Group C.
Tonight's referee is from Ecuador - Carlos Vera. It is his second game, also taking charge of Iran's 0-0 draw with Nigeria in Curitiba last Monday. He was also fourth official in Belgium's 1-0 win over Russia in Rio de Janeiro on Sunday.
TEAM NEWS: Didier Drogba starts for the first time in this World Cup, but at the expense of Wilfried Bony. Didier Zokora is suspended, with Kolo Toure coming in. For Greece, Mitroglou only makes the bench, with Salpingidis and Christodoulopoulos flanking Samaras in attack.
Colombia are almost certain to take the top spot in Group C, leaving these two Japan to fight it out for second. Whoever does end up in that second spot, they will face Costa Rica in the last 16 on Sunday in Recife. The Central Americans pipped Uruguay to top spot in Group D, leaving former world champions England and Italy lamenting their actions.
GRE: SUBSTITUTES: Glykos, Kapino, Tzavellas, Moras, Tziolis, Mitroglou, Vyntra, Gekas, Fetfatzidis, Samaris, Tachtsidis, Katsouranis.
CIV: SUBSTITUTES: Gbohouo, Sayouba, Viera, Bolly, Akpajd, Wilfried, Konan, Diomande, Gradel, Djakpa, Sio, Zokora.
GREECE: Karnezis; Torosidis, Manolas, Sokratis, Holebas; Koné, Lazaros, Maniatis, Karagounis; Salpingidis, Samaras
IVORY COAST: Barry; Aurier, Kolo Touré, Bamba, Boka; Yayá Touré, Tioté, Serey Die; Kalou, Drogba, Gervinho.
CONFIRMED TEAM NEWS:
Less than half an hour before kick-off in the first ever meeting between these two countries. Ivory Coast on the brink of securing their first passage into the last 16 at a World Cup. Greece looking to win a World Cup match for only the second time in eight attempts.
Meanwhile, Sabri Lamouchi's men have impressed in their two matches. They beat Japan 2-1 in Recife, before narrowly losing by the same scoreline to Colombia. Fine margins indeed, but the likes of Serge Aurier and Serey Die have caught the eye.
But if there's one thing that the Greeks are renowned for, it is for their determined attitude. At UEFA Euro 2012, Greece had drawn and lost their opening two games, but beat Russia 1-0 to sneak through on the head-to-head record. Can they do the same tonight?
Greece meanwhile have recovered from their opening defeat to Colombia, by holding Japan to a draw in Natal last week. They are one of a handful of teams not to find the net yet in this World Cup. All or bust for Fernando Santos' men.
Tragedy has overshadowed the Ivory Coast's preparations for this fixture. It emerged over the weekend that the younger brother of Yaya and Kolo Toure, Ibrahim - also a football player, had passed away after a short illness. Credit to the duo, they not only remain in Brazil, but start against Greece.
But focus back on this game in Fortaleza. Ivory Coast are favourites to spearhead African teams' progression into the last 16. A draw will suffice for the Elephants IF Japan do not beat Colombia by two goals. Simply put, the winner of this match will progress, if Japan do not beat Los Cafeteros in Cuiaba.
There is a whole host of permutations regarding who will join Colombia in the last 16. The South American side, who lead the group, take on Japan in the last game to be played at the Arena Pantanal in Cuiaba at this World Cup. Kick-off in the southwest is also at 22:00 CET.
It's the World Cup that keeps on giving. Goals, drama and the odd bite have captured the imagination across the globe. But neither Greece or Ivory Coast will want to book their return flight home from Brazil just yet. It is essentially, a knockout game.
Commentary & Report: Goal dot com