Greece seals historic win to stun Netherlands

AFP

Netherlands 1-2 Greece

Greece defeated Netherlands for the first time, coming from behind to win 2-1 at the Philips Stadion and end the host's four-game unbeaten run.

Giannis Gianniotas grabbed the winner in the 74th minute to frustrate the home fans after Georginio Wijnaldum's opener had been cancelled out by Kostas Mitroglou levelling with an unchallenged header.

Both sides failed to qualify for UEFA Euro 2016, and begin their FIFA 2018 World Cup campaigns in the coming days; Netherlands travelling to Sweden, Greece to Gibraltar.

In Eindhoven, though, it was the visitors who looked best equipped to tackle their competitive fixtures, capitalising on a number of missed Netherlands chances in a fine counter-attacking display to leave Danny Blind to rue another disappointing setback. 

Netherlands coach Blind has phased out senior figures Nigel de Jong and Robin van Persie over the past 12 months, while Arjen Robben remains out, but a starting line-up with an average age of less than 25 could not make the most of its opportunities.

Wesley Sneijder, who appeared from the bench in the teams' last meeting in 2004, was back in the side and handed the captain's armband, but his creative talents were redundant in a scrappy opening 10 minutes.

However, Netherlands' frustration soon subsided as two of their recent star performers combined for the opener.
 
Tottenham Hotspur forward Vincent Janssen was set free on the right, evaded the challenge of Georgios Tzavellas and centred for Wijnaldum to bundle the ball over the line, the third international in a row he has netted in. 

Although Greece had offered little, Jeroen Zoet had to be alert to tip away Konstantinos Fortounis' 25-yard effort at full stretch.

But Zoet was helpless on the half-hour mark when Mitroglou reached Vasilis Torosidis's cross to nod an equaliser.

While Sneijder's firm drive then dipped wide, the Oranje players struggled to regain their lost momentum before the interval.

Janssen tried his luck from the edge of the area shortly after the break, but substitute keeper Stefanos Kapino clawed away from the top corner.

As Janssen bore down on goal again, Kyriakos Papadopoulos brilliantly intercepted with a last-ditch challenge, before the forward curled agonisingly wide of the far post.

And Netherlands was punished when Jeffrey Bruma's loose control saw the ball land at Mitroglou's feet, who drove forward in search of his second and shot at goal.
Zoet saved, but Gianniotas was on hand to lash in the rebound.

There were several heated exchanges in the closing minutes as Blind's men sought an equaliser, but Greece held on for a famous win.


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