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Young pair inspire Greece against Malta

Greece 3-1 Malta
Greece restored their one-point Group F lead thanks to two goals from Giannis Fetfatzidis and one by teenage debutant Kyriakos Papadopoulos.

Fernando Santos saw his team return to the top
Fernando Santos saw his team return to the top ©Getty Images

Greece reclaimed top spot in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying Group F thanks to a hard-earned home victory against Malta.

First-half goals from youngsters Giannis Fetfatzidis and Kyriakos Papadopoulos – the latter scoring on his debut – put Greece in control. Although a Michael Mifsud goal for Malta just after half-time threatened the home side's prospects, Fetfatzidis tapped in his second of the night to seal victory. The win moves Greece a point ahead of Israel, who have played a game more, and Croatia, overnight leaders after defeating Georgia on Friday.

Fernando Santos's Greece side made all of the early running – most of it down their right flank – and they were in front in the eighth minute after a neat passage of play. Sotiris Ninis released the overlapping Vassilis Torossidis and the Olympiacos FC full-back's low centre was slotted in by his 20-year-old club colleague Fetfatzidis.

With Malta struggling to cope with their opponents' attacking play, Greece soon doubled their advantage when defender Papadopoulos, 19, met captain Giorgos Karagounis's 26th-minute free-kick to head past Andrew Hogg in the Malta goal.

Malta wοrked their way back into the game nine minutes into the second half when Mifsud finished well after a fortunate ricochet allowed Shaun Bajada to send him clear on goal. Malta substitute Andrew Cohen, who replaced Daniel Bogdanovic, was then unlucky when his powerful long-range strike cannoned off the left post.

Despite a brief period of Maltese pressure, the game was ended as a contest by Fetfatzidis on 64 minutes, the talented winger placing the ball into an empty net after Hogg had parried Dimitris Salpingidis's cross.