Odegard 15, 44
Tzimas 52, 82
NORWAY M. Ree, D. Murugesapillai, N. Hopland, S. Haram (46 R. Holten), D. Bassi (46 A. Andresen), A. Roaldsoy (63 H. Bruseth), H. Skogvold, N. Odegard (46 S. Aas), O. Braude, O. Sivertsen, E. Flataker (46 B. Faraas).
GREECE D. Monastirlis, N. Deligiannis, A. Prodromitis, A. Kalogeropoulos, C. Georgiadis, Z. Tsikos (60 K. Goumas), A. Symeonidis (82 V. Nikolaou), N. Spyrakos, D. Kottas (46 C. Stavropolous), A. Golfinos (60 G. Kyriopoulos), G. Gitersos (46 S. Tzimas).
Referee Joonas Jaanovits (Estonia FA).
Yellow cards Golfinos, Kottas, Symeonidis, Goumas.
Norway were forced to rely on an emphatic first half at the Centenary Stadium as they beat Greece 5-4 on Tuesday.
It was a clash between Norway – the top scorers in the qualifying stages, and Greece who had conceded the least goals heading into the tournament. It was the offensive side who prevailed this time, but it could have been a shocking finish as Greece fought for an impossible comeback.
Norway’s Oskar Sivertsen was the first to threaten with a shot straight at goal, one which goalkeeper Dimitrios Monastirlis could not hold onto. From the ensuing corner, a lapse in concentration among the Greek players gifted an easy header for Alwande Roaldsoy who opened the score after just five minutes.
Greece could have gotten level five minutes later when a misplaced clearance in the Norway defence fell to Giannis Gitersos. The Greek forward put the ball to Nikolaos Spyrakos who then gave it back to Gitersos and it was goalkeeper Magnus Ree who saved the day, preventing Greece from a swift equaliser.
15 minutes into the game, Greece were pushed further into disarray when Monastirlis handled what appeared to be a backpass. From the indirect freekick, the ball was dealt to captain Niklas Odegard who fired home Norway’s second goal of the afternoon.
Norway made it three 18 minutes in when Greek shotstopper Monastirlis managed to dribble away from his marker but went straight from hero to zero with another misplaced pass straight to Norway’s Henrik Skogvold who found an unmarked Erik Flataker, the latter tipping the ball into the net with a pinpoint header.
Greece went close to a goal on 24 minutes when Gitersos lead the ball to Spyrakos but his shot hit the upright.
Norway’s Ree held his clean sheet intact 35 minutes in with an acrobatic parry to a Dimitrios Kottas header from close range.
But from then onwards, it was Norway on the hunt yet again. Skogvold met a Nikolai Hopland freekick from inside his own half, moved past Nikolaos Deligiannis, and placed a low ball into the net as the game was all but over just past the half-hour.
The gulf in class was as clear as ever when Odegard scored his brace with a minute to go in the first half. Another mistake in defence from Greek captain Alexios Kalogeropoulos led the ball to Skogvold who put in a cross for the Norway captain to send home, showing the difference in performance between one armband-wearing player and the other.
After the break, Norway coach Luis Pimenta made wholesale changes to his side, bringing on four new players with the game all but decided. However, this move may have backfired as Greece discovered a new kind of energy.
Halftime substitute Stefanos Tzimas brought Greece a goal back into the fixture on 52 minutes when a through ball was played to Alexis Golfinos who beat two defenders, and pushed the ball to the 17-year-old who fired past Ree.
Tzimas was a young man on fire and could have made it two for Greece three minutes later but his low shot hit the post this time.
The match began to look a more balanced encounter and Christos Stavropoulos, brought on at the change of ends, gave Greece hope when he scored his team’s second goal 10 minutes from time with a volleyed effort from the penalty spot.
A minute later panic began to stem within the Norway camp as Greece’s substitutes proved their mettle, Tzimas narrowing the gap to within two goals when Georgios Kyriopoulos put in a low cross into the area and Tzimas made no mistake.
Ree kept Tzimas from scoring a hattrick late on in injury time with a brave lunge at the Greek’s feet.
However, there was still time for Kalogeropoulos to score a fourth goal for Greece when from a corner the Greek captain headed past Ree to end the game with heads held high at the final whistle.
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