Greece have defeated Finland 2-1 at the Olympic Stadium in Athens for the final round of the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
The John Van’t Schip-led team managed to combine their performance with some excellent football and will walk away from the competition with their heads held high.
The Dutch manager chose the exact same 4-5-1 formation and players that were victorious just a few days earlier in Yerevan against Armenia (0-1), rewarding them for their dedication to the team. Vlachodimos started under the goalpost, while Stafylidis and Hatzidiakos formed the duet in the heart of defence.
Giannoulis was on the left, with Bakakis on the right. Kourbelis and Galanopoulos organised the team’s play from midfield.
Mantalos was on the left wing, Limnios on the right with Bakasetas on an offensive midfielder position.
Michalis Pavlidis was the lone striker up front.
Greece came out of the dressing rooms with their foot on the pedal, gaining control of the play and creating several opportunities to score.
The crowd at the Olympic Stadium was once again pleased by the level of football displayed by this young yet ambition team.
Yet despite all the pressure applied by the Greeks, it was Finland who scored first against the flow of play, when Teemu Pukki took advantage of an unforced Stafylidis error deep in the Greek half of the field to give his team the lead.
This goal changed nothing in the game’s balance, with the white-and-blue continuing to press on and the Finns trying to keep them out of their box.
They managed to end the first half with their slender lead, but almost with the kick-off, Petros Mantalos restored the balance after capitalising on a cross from former teammate Bakasetas.
The second goal was just a matter of time as the Greeks had several times more shots on target than the Finns, who were reduced to a spectator’s role and after 70 minutes of play, the home side finally gained a highly deserved advantage.
Limnios made the cross to the feet of Pavlidis who took the first time shot with goalkeeper Joronen blocking the attempt.
The loose ball fell to the feet of Galanopoulos who gave Greece their third consecutive win.
This result leaves John Van’t Schip’s team feeling confident for the upcoming Nations League and World Cup 2022 qualifying campaigns, with the team building more character, creating more opportunities (they had 26 while Finland just four) and getting the fans back on their side with their attractive football.