Greece secured a place in the FIFA World Cup™ qualifying play-offs after comfortably seeing off Luxembourg 2-1 at the Olympic Stadium in Athens.
Vasilis Torosidis headed the Greeks in front on the half-hour mark and Theofanis Gekas, scorer of four goals in Saturday's 5-2 win over Latvia, added a second three minutes later. Ben Payal was dismissed for the visitors in the 58th minute after being shown a second yellow card to complete both a miserable night and qualifying campaign for Guy Hellers' team, whose only consolation came in the last minute when Avraam Papadopoulos turned a cross past his own goalkeeper.
Greece failed to add to the score but sealed a result which sees Otto Rehhagel's 2004 European champions clinch their place in Monday's play-off draw where they will be one of the seeded teams. As a result, the Greeks could face one of Ukraine, Serbia, Slovenia or Bosnia. Switzerland, who were held to a goalless draw by Israel in Basle, sealed top spot with 21 points and they take the section's automatic qualification spot for the 2010 finals in South Africa.
Greece went into the match full of confidence on the back of Saturday's 5-2 win over Latvia but struggled to get going in front of a sparse crowd and the visitors saw the first sight of goal, Gilles Bettmer firing a speculative shot wide after four minutes. It took Greece until the 20th minute to work an opening when Giorgos Fotakis shot wide, while the visitors threatened on the breakaway. Lone striker Joel Kitenge almost gave Luxembourg a surprise lead from a quick raid in the 25th minute but his fierce drive was tipped over the crossbar by Sifakis.
The accuracy of captain Giorgos Karagounis from dead-ball situations proved the key as Greece broke the deadlock with two goals in three minutes. The first came when Torosidis rose to head home a Karagounis corner from the right and then Gekas doubled the advantage by heading home a free-kick from the Panathinaikos midfielder's cultured right boot.
Papadopoulos then spoiled an otherwise comfortable night for the Greece defence by accidentally turning the ball past his own goalkeeper in the last minute.
FIFA.com will be streaming the European play-off draw directly from the Home of FIFA in Zurich on Monday at 14:00 CET.