Greece to meet Portugal in the Euro 2004 final
Traianos Dellas headed a dramatic silver goal for Greece to put the underdogs in Sunday's Euro 2004 final with hosts Portugal after a 1-0 victory over
the much-fancied Czech Republic in Porto. With just seconds to go in the first period of extra time, Dellas stooped to head Vassilios Tsiartas'
right-wing corner in at the near post to the joy of the Greek supporters.
The Czechs had their chances, with Tomas Rosicky striking the cross bar. But the plucky Greeks worked tirelessly to deny the Czechs, with Dellas a
giant at the heart of their defence.
The Czechs came flying out of the traps and almost took a spectacular lead after just two minutes when Jan Koller nodded on a free-kick and Tomas
Rosicky dipped a thumping volley against the bar with keeper Antonis Nikopolidis a helpless spectator. But the Greek keeper proved up to the task two
minutes later when Marek Jankulovski roared forward and Nikopolidis stood firm at the near post to parry his piledriver for a corner.
Having ridden out the early storm, Greece grew in confidence and after Giorgos Karagounis was upended by Rene Bolf, the Greek playmaker picked himself
to take the free-kick but the Czech wall did its job to take the sting out of his strike. With at least a foot height advantage over his marker
Michalis Kapsis, Koller's height was always going to be a threat and Nikopolidis was very cool as the giant striker's apparently harmless looping
header bounced on top of the bar.
Takis Fyssas epitomised Greece's growing confidence as he supported the attack to tease in a tempting cross which Charisteas missed at the near post
and Cech palmed away at full stretch as Karagounis sniffed for scraps. Nikopolidis came to Greece's rescue on 33 minutes, going full length to palm
claw away Jankulovski's first time shot after Rosicky's low cross found its way through to him.
The Czechs suffered a blow as half-time approached when star man Pavel Nedved limped off to be replaced by Vladimir Smicer. Despite the loss of their
talisman, the Czechs turned the screw in the second half and Nikopolidis was relieved as he completely misjudged Poborsky's corner and Koller's
goal-bound header struck team-mate Baros.
But back came Greece and Vryzas's glanced his header from Basinas's free-kick straight into Cech's arms. Jankulovsky wasted a good opportunity
presented by Zagorakis's foul on Barros, driving his free-kick into the two man wall from five yards in from the goal-line. With 10 minutes left
Koller took a cute return pass from Rosicky only to drag his shot wide from 10 yards out. Baros then weaved his way inside but choked his shot after
opening up the angle on the goal. Cech came to his side's rescue as the game went into extra-time, sprinting from his goal to block a header from
Stelios Giannakopoulos. Dellas then had a chance to score what would have been the winning silver goal but placed his glancing header from Vassilis
Tsiartas' free-kick too close to Cech. With the seconds ticking down to the end of the first period of extra-time, Dellas lost his marker Bolf at the
near post to glance home the winning header from a corner.
Greece: Nikopolidis, Seitaridis, Kapsis, Dellas, Fyssas, Basinas, Katsouranis, Zagorakis, Vryzas, Charisteas, Karagounis.
Subs: Chalkias, Katergiannakis, Dabizas, Georgiadis, Giannakopoulos, Goumas, Kafes, Lakis, Nikolaidis, Papadopoulos, Tsiartas, Venetidis.
Czech Republic: Cech, Grygera, Ujfalusi, Bolf, Jankulovski, Poborsky, Galasek, Rosicky, Nedved, Baros, Koller.
Subs: Blazek, Kinsky, Heinz, Hubschman, Jiranek, Lokvenc, Mares, Plasil, Rozehnal, Smicer, Tyce, Vachousek.
Referee: Pierluigi Collina (Italy).
[Edited on 1/7/04 by TRD]