Greece reclaimed top spot in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group F thanks to a hard-earned home victory against Malta.
First-half goals from youngsters Giannis Fetfatzidis and Kyriakos Papadopoulos – the latter scoring on his debut – put Greece in control. Although a Michael Mifsud goal for Malta just after half-time threatened the home side's prospects, Fetfatzidis tapped in his second of the night to seal victory. The win moves Greece a point ahead of Israel, who have played a game more, and Croatia, overnight leaders after defeating Georgia on Friday.
Fernando Santos's Greece side made all of the early running – most of it down their right flank – and they were in front in the eighth minute after a neat passage of play. Sotiris Ninis released the overlapping Vassilis Torossidis and the Olympiacos FC full-back's low centre was slotted in by his 20-year-old club colleague Fetfatzidis.
With Malta struggling to cope with their opponents' attacking play, Greece soon doubled their advantage when defender Papadopoulos, 19, met captain Giorgos Karagounis's 26th-minute free-kick to head past Andrew Hogg in the Malta goal.
Malta wοrked their way back into the game nine minutes into the second half when Mifsud finished well after a fortunate ricochet allowed Shaun Bajada to send him clear on goal. Malta substitute Andrew Cohen, who replaced Daniel Bogdanovic, was then unlucky when his powerful long-range strike cannoned off the left post.
Despite a brief period of Maltese pressure, the game was ended as a contest by Fetfatzidis on 64 minutes, the talented winger placing the ball into an empty net after Hogg had parried Dimitris Salpingidis's cross.
©UEFA.com 1998-2014. All rights reserved.