Giorgos Samaras and Dimitris Salpingidis teamed up once again to supply the only goal as Greece beat Latvia to maintain their battle for top spot in FIFA World Cup qualifying Group G.
On 18 November 2009, Samaras set up Salpingidis in Donetsk for the only goal of Greece’s two-legged World Cup play-off against Ukraine, and they revived their double-act against Latvia in Piraeus. The Celtic FC forward provided an excellent through ball for Salpingidis to beat Aleksandrs Kolinko with a cool, curling, left-footed finish on 58 minutes.
Victory leaves Greece level on points with Bosnia and Herzegovina at the top of the section, certain of at least a play-off place and with everything to play for when they meet Slovakia and Liechtenstein in October.
Fernando Santos’s side showed more attacking intent than on Friday, when they could only win 1-0 in Liechtenstein, with Sotiris Ninis masterminding most of their first-half efforts. However, for all the chances they created, they did not manage to beat Kolinko, who saved Kostas Mitroglou’s 14th-minute header.
Samaras then shot wide after completing a one-two with Ninis and Mitroglou was narrowly off target with another headed attempt on 32 minutes.
Greece did not show that much in terms of creativity after the interval, but once Salpingidis made the breakthrough they seemed comfortable enough. Māris Verpakovskis missed with a header and Juris Laizāns shot just wide of Orestis Karnezis’s goal as Latvia found some space with 20 minutes to go, but a third successive 1-0 qualifying win for the hosts never seemed in doubt.