A goal by substitute Angelos Charisteas four minutes from time earned Greece a 1-0 win at home to Ukraine at the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium in Athens. The result moved Otto Rehhagel's side above their opponents in UEFA EURO 2004™ Group 6 and ensured that Greece, surprise 1-0 winners away to Spain on Saturday, enjoyed a perfect week.
The home side were on top throughout but it seemed the game would end goalless until Vassilios Tsartas swung in a left-wing cross in the closing stages and fellow replacement Charisteas was on hand to prod the ball past Olexandr Shovkovskiy to send the capacity crowd into raptures. There was still time for Ukraine substitute Maxym Kalinichenko to equalise, but Greece goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis saved bravely at his feet to ensure his side collected three deserved points.
Greece began the match brighter and might have taken the lead after eight minutes as a free-kick found Stylianos Giannakopoulos unmarked ten metres from goal, but the midfield player could only head over the crossbar. Ukraine responded quickly, however, as the ball broke kindly for Andriy Shevchenko on the edge of the penalty area, but his shot was blocked.
A minute past the quarter-hour, the home side were given a golden opportunity to establish a lead their early pressure had warranted. Panagiotis Fyssas collected the ball on the left and cut in towards goal past Serhiy Rebrov but he was tripped by the Ukraine striker and the referee pointed to the spot. Giannakopoulos struck his penalty well but Shovkovskiy, diving to his right, produced a fine save with his left hand to keep the match goalless.
Greece continued to push forward and came close twice more in the following two minutes, as first Vassilios Lakis headed over when well-placed before Zisis Vryzas worked space for the shot on the edge of the penalty area but sent a powerful low strike fizzing wide. Ukraine showed little in the first period, but Shevchenko might have given the away side the lead against the run of play as a bouncing ball caused problems in the Greece defence, but the striker could only direct the ball wide.
Greece continued to look the more likely scorers as the half wore on, with Fyssas finding himself in time and space inside the penalty area only to shoot straight at Shovkovskiy, who also kept out a thunderous free-kick from Traianos Dellas.
Greece struggled to maintain their dominance after half-time, and Shevchenko might have given the visitors an undeserved lead, but his 20-metre shot was turned over by Nikopolidis and it seemed the home side would have to settle for a draw until Charisteas's late intervention.
Rehhagel was understandably delighted with his side's win. "It's been a fantastic night," he said. "All my players performed to the best of their ability, and were not discouraged despite missing chances. We are looking for stability in our performances; I want my players to be confident and it has been a great week with two wins, but qualification is not yet secured."