Greece kept pace with Bosnia-Herzegovina at the top of European Group G as Dimitris Salpingidis' goal gave them a vital 1-0 win over Latvia in Piraeus as both sides ended the game with ten men. Salpingidis netted after 58 minutes to reward a Greek performance which was dominant in terms of attacking possession, even if clear-cut chances were at a premium.
The win, which had shades of their previous laborious victory over Liechtenstein about it, meant Greece stayed level with Bosnia-Herzegovina, who beat Slovakia 2-1, at the top of the FIFA World Cup™ qualification group, while also assuring them of second place at the very least.
The game took an unsavoury twist at the end, as Latvia defender Ritvars Rugins was sent off for violent conduct in the 86th minute before Greece midfielder Kostas Katsouranis was also shown a red card in the 90th minute for his second bookable offence.
Greece made a lively start and could have been 2-0 up inside ten minutes. First Kostas Mitroglou sent a header in on goal in the fifth minute but Latvia goalkeeper Aleksandrs Kolinko held on.
Then four minutes later Salpingidis had a chance from close range but he could not find the target with his left-footed effort. Mitroglou had another chance just after the half-hour mark but his header went wide.
Greece apply second half pressure
Again it was Greece doing most of the running at the start of the second half and they were rewarded with a goal just before the hour mark.
Georgios Samaras played in Salpingidis, who sent a left-footed strike low past Aleksandrs Kolinko from close range. Chances were few and far between from there on with Greece content to protect their lead. Fernando Santos' men came away with the win they needed to keep up with Bosnia-Herzegovina on 19 points.