Greece is once again improbably through to the second phase of a major competition after beating the Ivory Coast, 2-1, in Fortaleza on Tuesday. Giorgios Samaras’ 93rd-minute penalty most certainly spells the end of the African giant’s golden generation featuring Didier Drogba, Soloman Kalou and possibly Yaya Toure, who are all on the wrong side of 30. The third-place finish is the Ivory Coast’s third in a row in the World Cup.
It also marks the end of French coach Sabri Lamouchi’s tenure with the Elephants, as he revealed that his contract would not be renewed after the World Cup. “It was a cruel way to lose but that is soccer,” he lamented.
But Fernando Santos, Lamouchi’s opposite number, believes the Greeks deserved it. “The best team won,” he said. “In terms of intelligence, strategy and the passion of the players, that scores two goals, hits the woodwork three times and had other chances, it is a deserved victory. We are going up in levels with each game. It was a very fair and just victory.”
Greece’s reward for qualifying for the round of 16 is a date with Group D winner Costa Rica on Sunday.