Ten-men Greece got 1 point
Alberto Zaccheroni's men played with a numerical advantage for most of the game following Kostas Katsouranis' dismissal but could failed to break the deadlock
Ten-man Greece managed to grab a precious point by playing to a 0-0 draw with Japan in Group C action on Thursday night at the Estadio das Dunas in Natal.
Greece midfielder Kostas Katsouranis was sent off in the 38th minute after his second yellow but the 2004 European champions hung on to scrap a result against a determined Japan side, which puts both teams on one point heading into their respective group stage finales on Tuesday.
Japan had several changes to their starting XI, most notably with Manchester United player Shinji Kagawa left out. In his place was Yoshito Okubo on the left flank of their three-man attacking midfield, along with Keisuke Honda in the middle and Shinji Okazaki on the right wing in support of lone striker Yuya Osako. Makoto Hasebe and Hotaru Yamaguchi manned the middle while goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was shielded by defenders Yuto Nagtomo, Maya Yoshida, Yasuyuki Konno and Atsuto Uchida.
Greece lined up in a 4-3-3 formation with Orestis Karnezis in goal and José Holebas, Kostas Manolas, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Vasilis Torosidis in defense. Panagiotis Kone, Katsouranis and Giannis Maniatis manned the middle while Georgios Samaras, Kostas Mitroglou and Giannis Fetfatzidis formed the Greek attack.
The two teams traded chances through the first 30 minutes, but neither side was able to finish with the best chance being a Honda free kick in the 28th minute that Karnezis was able to parry away to safety.
The match took a drastic turn in the 38th minute when Greece captain Katsouranis was sent off following a foul on Japan’s Hasebe. It was the second yellow for the Greek midfielder who could only shake his head in disbelief while exiting the pitch. Yet the sending off seemed to fire up the Greeks and a minute later Torosidis nearly put the Europeans ahead but his effort was saved by Kawashima.
Greece stayed stuck in their defensive third as play continued into the second half and allowed little to Japan. The Greeks used the counterattack to effect and nearly broke the deadlock on the hour mark when substitute Theofanis Gekas smacked a header goal-ward only for Kawashima to come up with another big save.
But the best chance of the match up to that point came in the 68th minute when a ball played into substitute Kagawa was then crossed for Okubo at the far post but the Kawasaki Frontale man send his shot to the heavens instead of on goal. That started a final 20 minutes with Japan mercilessly pounding the Greek defense including a Yasuhito Endo free kick hit in the 90th minute that Karzenis did well to save. In the end, the Asian champions were unable to break through against their solid and well-organized opponents.
Japan will look for a win against group leaders Colombia on Tuesday while Greece will square off against the Ivory Coast, also on Tuesday.
Japan 0-0 Greece
Rest of Europe
World Cup 2014