Otto Rehhagel maintains Greece did their utmost to win the first leg of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifying play-off, but praised the resilience of opponents Ukraine in the 0-0 draw.
Theofanis Gekas, the overall top scorer in European Zone qualifying with 10 goals, wasted Greece's best chance while Ruslan Rotan was guilty of poor finishing for the visitors on a night when both sides cancelled each other out at the Olympic Stadium in Athens. Sotiris Kyrgiakos almost won the game for Otto Rehhagel's Greece in the dying seconds but the Liverpool defender headed wide.
"The result leaves everything open," said Rehhagel. "Ukraine were impressive in their passing game and their attacking players were very good. We wanted to win this game but our opponents were strong on the counter attack and we always had this in the back of our minds.
Both teams have an equal chance of going through although we do have a slight advantage because of the fact that we will be playing at home.
"We had some chances to score but unfortunately we just couldn't convert them. It wasn't possible to play more attacking than we did because of the strength of our opponents."
Rehhagel was pleased Greece's defence was not breached. "If we had conceded a goal it would have made things extremely difficult for us," added the veteran coach.
Alexei Mikhailichenko believes his Ukraine side are favourites for Wednesday's return leg in Donetsk. "Both teams have an equal chance of going through although we do have a slight advantage because of the fact that we will be playing at home in the deciding game," he said.
"We tried to play on the counter attack and our game plan went well. We now have to sit down and analyse the game to see how we will approach the return."