Reigning European champions Greece kept their nerve to defeat Bosnia-Herzegovina and extend their lead in UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying Group C to four points.
Ten men beaten
Angelos Charisteas's early goal was cancelled out after the break by Mirko Hrgović but he was sent off soon afterwards and Theofanis Gekas and Nikolaos Liberopoulos earned Greece a cushion they needed for the points, given Vedad Ibišević's late strike. Greece sit four points clear of Turkey, held in Moldova today, and five above Norway. Victory in Istanbul on Wednesday would secure the holders' place next June in Austria and Switzerland.
Greece returned to Athens after two games in Crete and were soon ahead when Charisteas rose to head Christos Patsatzoglou's cross against the bar and then prodded in the rebound. The lead was safe until half-time despite two long-range efforts from Zlatan Muslimović which Antonios Nikopolidis was able to deal with.
Yet the goalkeeper was beaten nine minutes into the second half as Hrgović's left-footed free-kick curled into the top corner. His joy was short-lived, however, as he received a straight red card two minutes later for a foul on Angelos Basinas. Greece swiftly made the extra man count when Gekas beat the offside trap and calmly shot in.
Liberopoulos, a second-half substitute for Charisteas, then added a third goal to seemingly wrap up the contest with 17 minutes left, smashing the ball into the roof of the net after Gekas's shot had cannoned back off an upright. Ibišević ensured a nervy last few moments though by reducing the deficit in the second minute of stoppage time with a neat finish from a loose ball. But Greece held on to claim the victory which all but ended their visitors' hopes.