Greece coach Fernando Santos said that another poor start had cost his side dearly as two goals in the first six minutes saw the Greeks lose 2-1 to Czech Republic in their UEFA EURO 2012 Group A match on Tuesday.
The 57-year-old Portuguese, who replaced veteran German Otto Rehhagel after the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ finals first-round exit, added that he had not given up on securing a last eight spot even though they will have to beat group leaders Russia to do so.
The Greeks, who beat the Czechs in the EURO 2004 semi-finals on their way to lifting the trophy, have just a point while the second-placed Czechs have three. Co-hosts Poland are on two points after having fought out a 1-1 draw with Russia, who are on four points.
Santos said that he had feared the Czechs would bolt out of the blocks. "We knew it could happen. In their first match (a 4-1 loss to Russia), the Czechs were very attack-minded from the moment they went on to the pitch," said Santos, whose side also made a slow start against the Poles. "But regardless of us being forewarned we were not able to respond."
Santos, a former league and Cup winning coach with Porto, praised his side - who were patched up with a second choice centre-back partnership because of suspension and injury - for the second-half performance.
"There would have been another match without those two goals in the first six minutes. We conceded four goals in ten matches in qualifying, and we have conceded three in two matches here! These few minutes cost us dearly.
"Afterwards, we were eventually able to get a foothold on the match, and we played with a lot of heart, we did everything in our power we could to equalise, but it just didn't come. Now it is vital we look to the final match, hope still remains."