Mitroglou shines as Greece qualify for World Cup
BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Greece qualified for a second successive World Cup after another Kostas Mitroglou goal secured a 1-1 draw with Romania in the second leg of their playoff on Tuesday and a 4-2 victory on aggregate.
Mitroglou, who scored twice in Greece's 3-1 first-leg win, beat the offside trap midway through the first half and gave keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu no chance with his 22nd goal in all competitions this season.
Romania equalized 10 minutes after the break when the ball ricocheted off defender Vasilis Torosidis from Jose Holebas's attempted clearance and looped beyond goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis for an astonishing own goal.
Greece, the 2004 European champions, competed in the previous World Cup finals, in South Africa in 2010, as well as the 1994 tournament in the United States, but they have failed to get past the first round, losing five of their six matches.
Greece arrived in Bucharest after seven consecutive wins and aiming to produce another solid defensive display, with Bogdan Stancu's strike at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium on Friday ending their run of 594 minutes without conceding a goal.
Greece coach Fernando Santos made only one change from the team that humbled the Romanians in the first leg, with 36-year-old veteran Giorgos Karagounis replacing suspended captain Kostas Katsouranis in midfield in his 131st international appearance.
"It's a great moment for all of us and for all Greeks," Fulham midfielder Karagounis, who assisted Mitroglou with clever through-ball for the opening goal after 23 minutes, told reporters.
"You just can't describe your feelings after such a game.
"I've been playing for the national team for 14 years, I played at the European championship's finals 10 years ago and now I fulfilled another dream." Continued...