|Republic of Ireland||Czech Republic|
Solid defensively as usual but lacking imagination up front, UEFA EURO 2012 hopefuls Greece were held to a 1-1 draw by Belgium, despite the visitors playing for the final 30 minutes with ten players.
The hosts were in front in the ninth minute, Fanis Gekas lifting a loose ball over Belgium goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for Dimitris Salpingidis, who tapped in for his seventh international goal. However, Nacer Chadli headed the visitors level from Eden Hazard's corner, and Fernando Santos's side were unable to capitalise on Nicolas Lombaerts' 62nd-minute dismissal.
Greece lined up with Giannis Maniatis as a defensive midfielder for the first time and captain Kostas Katsouranis in more of a marshalling role than usual, so Salpingidis's early strike was encouraging. Maniatis fired one over not long afterwards, but Belgium then began to get more possession in midfield. They had gone close through Alex Witsel, whose shot cannoned wide off Avraam Papadopoulos, before Chadli beat debutant goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis on 32 minutes.
Kevin Mirallas was not far off scoring a second four minutes later, firing wide after Hazard sent him through on goal, and with Greece losing traction in midfield, Santos looked to make changes at the break. Lombaerts' dismissal for a second bookable offence might have signalled improved fortunes for Greece, but half-time replacement Romelu Lukaku continued to menace for the Red Devils, laying on one inviting chance that Thomas Vermaelen passed up, and going close himself later on.
The UEFA EURO 2004 winners looked to turn the screw in the final ten minutes, but came no closer than off-target long-range shots from substitutes Giorgos Karagounis and Kostas Fortounis. Thus Greece's last home game before they journey to Poland and Ukraine in June ended with more questions than answers.
©UEFA.com 1998-2011. All rights reserved.
|Fernando Santos (POR)||Georges Leekens (BEL)|
|Daniel Stålhammar (SWE)|