Greece recorded their first victory of UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying at the expense of Latvia, defeating their Group F rivals 1-0 in Athens.
After dominating possession for long spells of a tentative encounter, Olympiacos FC defender Vassilios Torossidis broke Latvia's resistance in the 58th minute, scoring with a clinical finish following a neat exchange of passes with Kostas Katsouranis. The result takes Greece level with Georgia on five points at the section summit, with Croatia and Israel meeting on Saturday before the latter's trip to the Greek capital on Tuesday.
Greece and Latvia were meeting just two days shy of a year since their last encounter, when Greece prevailed 5-2 in 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying. There was little hint of a similar scoreline during the first half despite the home side dictating possession. Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis, on his 100th international appearance, was the first to try his luck in the tenth minute but his speculative effort comfortably cleared the crossbar. Kostas Mitroglou, leading the hosts' attack, registered their first attempt on target five minutes later with a glancing header which Andris Vaņins tipped over.
Latvia frustrated their hosts with a display of admirable discipline and organisation, restricting them to long-range strikes for the remainder of the half. Sotiris Ninis and Torossidis tried their luck but were both denied by the resilient Vaņins. At the other end Latvia could have gone ahead themselves when Maris Verpakovskis broke clear in the 44th minute following a defensive mix-up, but the Ergotelis FC striker took one touch too many and Georgios Tzavelas made a crucial recovering tackle.
The second half started in similar fashion to the first, Karagounis flashing a shot narrowly over from the edge of the box, before the deadlock was finally broken by Torossidis. The 25-year-old surged down the right and, after a neat one-two with Katsouranis, slotted the ball past Vaņins and into the corner. Greece held on for a comfortable victory that ended with coach Manuel Santoshanding a first cap to Olympiacos playmaker Ioannis Fetfatzidis, the 19-year-old replacing Ninis after 82 minutes.