Greece, Mali play out stalemate
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Mali and Greece have played out a drab 0-0 draw that keeps them both well in the hunt for the Turkey 2013 knock-out stages, with two and four points respectively, ahead of their final Group D games.

Chances were at a premium in the early stages. Neither seemed willing to commit greatly, hoping to avoid conceding an early goal. Both sides impressed in their first games, getting results that left them real chances of qualification, as Mali drew with Paraguay, while Greece beat Mexico.

The first chance of note did not come until midway through the opening period as Panagiotis Ballas struck from range after neat movement in the final third, but Germain Berthe was not troubled.

Adama Niane, who scored in Mali's previous game, had arguably the best chance of the half. A slick exchange of passes with Issaka Samake saw him in behind the Greek defence, but his attempt to lob Stefanos Kapino fell just wide.

Ioannis Giannotas gave Berthe something to think about straight after the break, as his shot stung the palms of the goalkeeper from a tight angle. Niane then tried his luck from range with an arcing effort that narrowly cleared the Greek crossbar.

Andreas Bouchalakis then missed a chance that he will probably struggle to fathom for years on end. A neat pass found Dimitrios Diamantakos, who squared across goal to the unmarked Bouchalakis but, with the goal gaping and just four yards out, he hit the bar when it looked tough to miss.

With the clock ticking down, the deadlock was so nearly broken in Greece's favour through a Mali mix-up. Defending a low cross, Ousmane Keita forced Berthe into his best save of the night, as his sliced clearance was only prevented nestling in the bottom corner by a fine reflex stop.

Wastefulness in front of goal was limiting Mali's impact, with plenty of shots registered – largely from outside the penalty area – but Kapino rarely forced into any kind of meaningul action. Niane was the main culprit, and Mali will hope that their missed chances do not prove costly once the points are tallied up on Friday.