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Greece halfway to Brazil after Romania win

Published: Saturday 16 November 2013, 8.54CET
"We are halfway there," said coach Fernando Santos after Greece's 3-1 play-off win against Romania, but a "sad and angry" Ciprian Marica is not abandoning hope just yet.
by Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
from Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis
Greece halfway to Brazil after Romania win
Greece celebrate one of Kostas Mitroglou's two goals against Romania ©AFP/Getty Images

Published: Saturday 16 November 2013, 8.54CET

Greece halfway to Brazil after Romania win

"We are halfway there," said coach Fernando Santos after Greece's 3-1 play-off win against Romania, but a "sad and angry" Ciprian Marica is not abandoning hope just yet.

Greece's "passion, soul and talent" showed for forward Dimitris Salpingidis as they secured a 3-1 win in the first leg of their FIFA World Cup play-off against Romania, with the visitors determined to fight until the last despite the odds being stacked against them for the return fixture.

Fernando Santos, Greece coach
We scored an early goal, but quickly conceded one. Usually we don't concede goals like that. Fortunately, we responded quickly. We are halfway there now. On Tuesday, we will seal our qualification.

We have to prepare well for the second encounter. We have the advantage and need to defend it tooth and nail. This is not the time to make predictions, but we know that the Bucharest leg will be very tough. I congratulate my players for a well-deserved victory that the Greek people really needed and enjoyed. This is the kind of football I like to see from my team. My job now is to make sure that the players don't get carried away. We won't forget our first-leg advantage or take unnecessary risks. We need to have cool heads, rest well and display the same eagerness to win on Tuesday.

Dimitris Salpingidis, Greece forward
We stamped our personality on the match. We played very well and could have got a more substantial victory. We still have 90 minutes ahead and need to play even better in order to qualify. This Greece team has passion, soul and talent, and are meeting fans' expectations, but we should refrain from any celebrations now – let's postpone them until after the game in Romania.

Kostas Katsouranis, Greece midfielder
We were better than Romania tonight and had the chances to get more goals. We will be in the World Cup finals as long as we keep our concentration in the away leg and give it everything on the pitch, as always. We have the experience to treat that match as if the first leg ended 0-0. Congratulations to the whole team for a long-overdue great performance.

Victor Piţurcă, Romania coach
Greece played tremendously and after this 3-1 defeat, our chances are slim, but even if the chances are so slender, we will fight until the end and do everything to qualify. We expected Greece to pose us problems, but I honestly didn't expect to concede so many goals. We equalised, but they made it 2-1 within 45-50 seconds of the restart, and what can I say about the third goal? The defending was like something you would see in the schoolyard.

Football is about exploiting mistakes, and we were the ones who made the mistakes. The two players who will miss the second leg due to suspensions [Alexandru Bourceanu and Costin Lazăr] are major losses, as was Vlad Chiricheș's absence today. Unfortunately we don't have so many great players who can replace them, but we will try our best with the players we have.

Ciprian Marica, Romania forward
We have to prove that we can stick together, not just during the good times but especially when things are bad and difficult. We are all so sad and angry, but we lost only a battle, not the whole war. Qualification hasn't been settled today. Luck has to be with us, but as I said, we have to be united and we will chase our dream until the end. Only together can we succeed.

Greece were better than us today and dominated us physically. We conceded the goals too easily and were well aware that it was going to be difficult for us to score. We lost the battle in midfield and we cannot concede any more in Bucharest.

Last updated: 16/11/13 17.10CET

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