Greece blow away Malta to open in style

Greece 5-0 Malta 
The hosts could afford a missed penalty as two early goals from Nikos Karelis set them on the way to a resounding opening win.

Greece celebrate their third goal
Greece celebrate their third goal ©Intime

Greece began their 2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualifying campaign in emphatic style as they blew away Malta in Athens.

Nikos Karelis set the hosts on the way with two goals inside the first 13 minutes before strikes from Stelios Kitsiou, substitute Dimitris Diamantakos and Giannis Gianniotas wrapped things up after the break. Kostas Tsanas's side could even afford to miss a second-half penalty.

Malta received early warning of what was to come as Gianniotas forced Jurgen Borg to tip his header over the bar smartly just three minutes in. The keeper could do nothing moments later, though, as Karelis collected a loose ball and swept in a low shot.

The goalscorer doubled his personal tally when Borg turned the ball on to the crossbar and the forward was on hand to knock in the rebound. Substitute Jean Paul Farrugia had a chance to pull one back after the break but was denied by Stefanos Kapino with only the keeper to beat.

Kitsiou drove in a third for the home side 18 minutes from time and though Borg denied Kostas Stafylidis from the penalty spot, Greece would not be denied further goals. Diamantakos took advantage of a defensive blunder to slide in two minutes after arriving from the bench before Gianniotas wrapped things up from the edge of the area in the 90th minute.

"Our aim was to score early, open up Malta's defence and get rid of any stress," said two-goal Karelis. "We scored many goals and that is good news for us. Now our focus shifts to our trip to Turkey in October for a crucial match there."