GREECE 2-1 FINLAND Nicosia, Cyprus, 06/02/2008
Litmanen 66, Charisteas 67, Katsouranis 72
Okay, this is complicated: This match is part of the friendly Cyprus International Tournament, also involving the Czech Republic and Poland. On the previous afternoon, 5 February, a Greece side played a Czech Republic side. This was regarded by both sides as a ‘training camp’ match, and featured many reserve and under-21 players. Crucially, the match was NOT recognised by FIFA as an ‘A’ match and therefore does NOT count as a UFWC title match. 24 hours later, this match against Finland also featured several reserve players, but WAS recognised as a FIFA ‘A’ match. Therefore it WAS a UFWC title match. Phew.
Greece coach Otto Rehhagel hoped to include uncapped 33-year-old Olympiakos midfielder Ieroklis Stoltidis in his line-up. Unfortunately, Stoltidis considered himself too old to make his international debut. ‘I am at an age where I can no longer perform at the required level for both my club and my country,’ he said. Meanwhile, Finland manager Stuart Baxter was helming his first full international.
Greece dominated the match, but the result was never a foregone conclusion. Finland took the lead after 66 minutes through veteran star and new Fulham signing Jari Litmanen. But Greece were level within a minute, with Angelos Charisteas heading in a Giorgos Karagounis free kick. Benfica midfielder Costas Katsouranis won the match with a long-range effort that deceived Finland goalkeeper Peter Enckelman.
Greece retain the title and are now unbeaten in six games. The team’s next scheduled game is a friendly away to Hungary on 24 May, although it is expected that other Euro 2008 warm-up games will be announced.
Greece: Antonis Nikopolidis (Chrisostomos Michailidis, 46), Christos Patsatzoglou (Panagiotis Lagos, 46), Vassilis Torosidis, Angelos Basinas, Sotiris Kyrgiakos, Paraskevas Antzas, Costas Katsouranis, Giorgos Karagounis (Nikos Spiropoulos, 70), Ioannis Amanatidis (Dimitris Salpingidis, 46), Angelos Charisteas, Fanis Gekas (Nikos Lymberopoulos, 78).
Finland: Peter Enckelman, Markus Halsti, Mika Vayrynen, Mikael Forssell, Jari Litmanen (Roni Porokara, 70), Juha Pasoja, Ari Nyman (Veli Lampi, 77), Markus Heikkinen, Alexei Eremenko, Jonatan Johansson (Kari Arkivuo, 77), Toni Kallio.