Greece beat Romania 3-1 with Mitroglou double
By Graham Wood
ATHENS (Reuters) - Kostas Mitroglou narrowly missed a hat-trick as Greece hit their stride and beat Romania 3-1 in the first leg of a World Cup qualifying playoff tie at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium in Athens on Friday.
The Olympiakos Piraeus striker volleyed Greece in front after 14 minutes but the visitors hit back four minutes later via Bogdan Stancu's header from a clever Gabriel Torje free-kick.
The Greeks retook the lead seconds later with a Dimitris Salpingidis close-range finish, while Mitroglou added a third in the 66th to increase the advantage. Romania's Costin Lazar was then sent off in stoppage time.
Fernando Santos' team were well worth the victory that gave them every chance of securing a place in Brazil next year after the return leg against Victor Piturca's Romania in Bucharest on Tuesday.
"This was the kind of football that I want to see from my team, but it's not always possible to play this way in such matches where lots is at stake," the Portuguese coach told a news conference.
The result marked a rare goal blitz for Greece, whose low scoring in previous matches had left them in the play-offs after finishing behind European qualifying Group G winners Bosnia-Herzegovina on goal difference.
Friday's match saw a different dimension to the team, with Samaras and Salpingidis marauding down the flanks and Mitroglou proving a constant menace in a lone center forward role.
"I don't think something has changed suddenly, it was more of a case that we managed to take advantage of the scoring opportunities presented to us," said Santos. Continued...