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Late penalty saves Greece

Thursday, June 26, 2014

FORTALEZA, Brazil - Georgios Samaras's dramatic injury-time penalty has taken Greece into the World Cup last 16 for the first time ever as they grabbed a 2-1 win which also sent Ivory Coast crashing out.

Samaras, brought down by Giovanni Sio in the 91st minute, bravely stepped up to convert past a flailing Boubacar Barry before being mobbed by his team-mates.

It proved the last act of a thrilling Group C finale which Greece had led following Andreas Samaris's strike near half time, before Wilfried Bony equalised.

The Swansea City striker's goal looked enough to take Ivory Coast through but Samaras's penalty lifted Greece from bottom place to second, thanks also to Colombia's 4-1 win over Japan.

Samaras's goal brought a cruel end to the tournament for Ivory Coast's Yaya and Kolo Toure, who were playing despite the death of their brother from cancer last week.

After the match, Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi announced that he would not continue as coach of the Elephants.

"My contract comes to an end at this World Cup and there will be no epilogue and you can understand well as to why," said the 42-year-old Frenchman.

"It is logical as we did not do well at last year's Africa Cup of Nations or at the World Cup finals."

His Greece counterpart Fernando Santos, who announced before the finals he would not be seeking to renew his contract which finishes at the end of this month, was not happy at the suggestion that his side only won through their trademark solid defending.

"I can only laugh at that, it is a joke," said the 59-year-old Portuguese, who guided the Greeks to the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.

"In football one attacks and one defends. We know how to defend well but we are also good on the counter-attack.

"What I take most pleasure in is that this win will bring great joy to the Greek people."

Veteran striker Didier Drogba took over captaincy duties from Yaya Toure as he made his first start of the World Cup.

And they combined for the Ivory Coast's first dangerous moment but the Manchester City man's pass into the box was too heavy for the 36-year-old Galatasary striker's ageing legs to run on to.

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