By JASON MITCHELL
Perhaps the third time is the charm.
For the first time in its history, Greece has advanced to the World Cup knockout stages. In fitting form for a drama-filled tournament, it took last minute magic for the Greeks to top Ivory Coast and advance out of Group C on Tuesday.
With the match tied 1-1 in the 92nd minute—a scoreline that would have advanced Ivory Coast and eliminated Greece—Georgios Samaras drew a penalty in the box against Giovanni Sio.
Samaras calmly buried the ensuing penalty into the right netting for the 2-1 win in front of 59,095 at Estadio Castelao in Fortoleza, Brazil.
Samaras also assisted on Greece’s first-half goal.
The victory advances Greece out of the group stage for the first time in three tries. The Greeks were ousted in the group stages in both 1994 and 2010. Coming into the game, Greece had managed just two goals in eight World Cup matches.
Greece will face Group D winner and tournament darling Costa Rica in the Round of 16.
Substitute Andreas Samaris put Greece up 1-0 in the 42nd minute, his country’s first goal in more than 230 minutes of play at the 2014 World Cup. Samaris capitalized on a bad Ivory Coast turnover and worked a quick one-two with Samaras before beating goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.
Second-half substitute Wilfried Bony equalized for Ivory Coast in the 74th minute, one-touching a short pass from Gervinho past goalkeeper Panagiotis Glykos to tie the match 1-1.
The goal seemed sure to advance Ivory Coast out of the group stage for the first time in three tries. The Elephants were knocked out in the group stage both 2006 and 2010, although they drew deadly opponents in both tournaments.
Greece was forced to substitute both goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis and midfielder Panagiotis Kone in the first half due to injuries.
Happy for the Greeks? Gutted for Ivory Coast? Think Greece’s bunker-and-counter tactics will get it past Costa Rica?
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