GREECE 0-0 MEXICO
Mexico will face Argentina in the FIFA Confederations Cup semi-finals after a goalless draw against Greece in the Waldstadion, Frankfurt ensured that they finished top of Group B.
Greece picked up their first point before heading home, although they will exit the tournament without a goal despite good chances here for Angelos Charisteas and Zisis Vryzas. Mexico, for their part, had a goal disallowed and created several scoring opportunities but were probably the more content with the result.
The situation in the table ahead of the final group match was straightforward enough. Greece could no longer reach the semi-finals after two successive defeats, but a single point would be enough for Mexico to top the standings.
Amanatidis on old stamping ground
Fit-again Mihalis Kapsis made a first appearance of the tournament for Greece, with striker Ioannis Amanatidis also handed a start at the ground where he once attracted a cult following in Eintracht colours. The Mexicans used the opportunity to cast an eye over a number of squad players, resting Zinha and Jared Borgetti. Aaron Galindo and Salvador Carmona were also unavailable after being sent home.
The game's first clear-cut opening fell to Greece on seven minutes, as Vryzas headed goalwards from a precise cross only for the effort to rebound from the angle of post and bar, before keeper Oswaldo Sanchez brilliantly palmed the striker's follow-up off the line.
The European champions went about their work with gusto, clearly determined to erase the memory of two below-par displays with a fitting farewell from the tournament. Greece dominated the opening quarter of the match, roared on by their passionate following.
Chances fell to both sides in a frantic passage of play on 20 minutes. Greece netminder Antonios Nikopolidis foiled Jose Francisco Fonseca, before Charisteas hared after a long through-pass but reached the ball a split second after Sanchez.
By the midpoint in the half, Mexico had come to terms with the absence of their four regulars, although Greece continued to hold the upper hand, launching a series of high balls aimed at the imposing aerial presence of Charisteas, standing tall above the diminutive Mexican back line. That said, the group leaders came closest with half-time looming as Ramon Morales burst down the left, but Luis Perez was unable to tuck away the chance.
Prolific striker Theofanis Gekas replaced Amanatidis for the second 45 minutes, with Mexico boss Ricardo Lavolpe introducing Alberto Medina for Pavel Pardo. The pattern from the first half continued for a spell as the Greeks controlled possession, with their opponents seeking to catch them out with occasional speedy breaks. Medina made the most of his chance, frequently posing a threat to Nikopolidis' goal with some lively work down the right flank.
Lavolpe brought off Fonseca on the hour, replacing the front man with midfielder Gerardo Torrado. Jaime Lozano then showed a touch of class, dribbling his way to the left edge of the area but drilling his 17-metre effort wide of the post.
Mexico upped the tempo midway through the half and a string of openings culminated in a golden opportunity on 67 minutes as Torrado latched on to a diagonal ball into the danger zone, only for Nikopolidis to pull out a stunning reaction save.
Star player Rafael Marquez appeared in place of Lozano for a first run-out at the FIFA Confederations Cup with a quarter of an hour remaining, but the Barcelona defender's arrival almost heralded the opening goal for the Europeans. Charisteas angled a pass into the box but the ball evaded Dimitrios Papadopoulos and Stylianos Giannakopoulos, both lurking just five metres from goal. At the other end, Gonzalo Pineda might have done better after ghosting free in the area, but his finish was wayward.
Ten minutes from time, the ball finally found the back of the net twice, but the referee hauled Medina back for offside, before cancelling out the Greeks' immediate reply for a foul by Ioannis Goumas.
Charisteas then enjoyed a gilt-edged chance to salvage some pride for his country after a slick one-two with Papadopoulos, but Sanchez was not to be beaten and parried brilliantly.