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Holders humbled by giant Greeks

Published: Saturday 26 June 2004, 0.51CET
The giants continued to fall by the wayside as defending champions France went the way of former winners Italy, Germany and Spain, not to mention England.
by Adam Szreter
from Lisbon

Match statistics


Goals scored0
Attempts on target4
Attempts off target6
Fouls committed23
Yellow cards2
Red cards0


Published: Saturday 26 June 2004, 0.51CET

Holders humbled by giant Greeks

The giants continued to fall by the wayside as defending champions France went the way of former winners Italy, Germany and Spain, not to mention England.

The giants continued to fall by the wayside tonight, the defending champions France going the way of fellow former winners Italy, Germany and Spain, not to mention England, as Greece pulled off the greatest result in their history.

Greek glee
Along with everyone else at the Estádio José Alvalade, the 5,000-strong contingent of Greek fans, many of whom had travelled out just for this match more in hope than expectation, could barely believe what they had witnessed when referee Anders Frisk blew the final whistle.

Discipline and organisation
As it was when they defeated Portugal in the opening match of the tournament, it was a triumph of discipline and organisation, the architect Otto Rehhagel, Greece's German coach who is fast assuming deific proportions in his adopted homeland. The party in Athens and every other Greek city might last almost until the Olympic Games begin there later in the summer.

Nothing to fear
It was a goal by SV Werder Bremen striker Angelos Charisteas that settled a game that had been Greece's for the taking long before his 65th-minute header from captain Theodoros Zagorakis' cross. Now Greece can look forward to a semi-final meeting with the Czech Republic or Denmark, knowing they have no reason to fear anyone.

Charisteas celebrations
Charisteas, the Carlsberg Man of the Match, said: "We worked very hard against a great opponent. We showed that our previous successes were no flukes - it's the fruit of hard work and commitment. We have a very good squad and we have been showing that from the start, from the qualifying phase. At this stage now, everything is possible. It's a great moment for Greek football. All Greeks should celebrate with us and should be proud of their national team."

'Player passion'
Rehhagel himself said: "This is very big news all around the world - in Rio de Janeiro, New York, Tokyo - so it is a great opportunity for Greek football. I would like to congratulate all my players because they played with passion. There were times when France moved the ball around better, but we were better and won the game. How you play depends on your opponents, and we just didn't let them play.

'Team spirit'
"Our tactics were successful. We are definitely going to enjoy ourselves today, but we have to keep our feet on the ground and we will start preparing for the next game. [Over] the last three years I have tried to instil team spirit among my players. They were all very good players to begin with, but I have tried to tell them that it is the team that counts.

Respect for rules
"The Greek players are very good individually but they had to realise that rules exist and have to be respected. When this works, they all understand that they have their part to play. I told the Greek people to come to Lisbon to see us and I am glad they were not disappointed."

'Technical faults'
France coach Jacques Santini said: "In the first half the Greek team maybe should have and could have scored, because they created some good chances. In the second half the situation was reversed. What we lacked is that we had too many technical faults and maybe we lacked lucidity at the end of the match because we wanted to score at any cost.

'Great disappointment'
"Against a regrouped defence our performance was not the best. It is a great disappointment because the adventure is finishing when we could have hoped like all the other quarter-finalists to go to the end of this [UEFA] European Championship."

Last updated: 26/06/04 18.33CET