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November 15, 2013
• 2:45 PM
• Stadio Georgios Karaiskáki, Pireás (Piraeus)
Referee: Pedro Proença
• Attendance: 26200
K. Mitroglou 14', 66'
D. Salpingidis 20'
B. Stancu 19'
That's it from me Harry Slavin. Thanks to all of you who joined me for tonight's action from Athens. You can catch the second-leg here on Tuesday, but until then, bye for now!
FULL-TIME: GREECE 3-1 ROMANIA. Samaras send a free header over the bar with the last touch of the game but it doesn't matter too much as Greece will feel they have one foot in the World Cup Finals already after a commanding victory.
90' + 4'
Lobont has to tip Karagounis's free kick behind for a corner. Still the danger lurks for Romania.
90' + 3'
Yellow Card R. Raţ
90' + 3'
Romania have lost the plot now. Razvan Rat joins his team-mates in the book after a foul on Karagounis.
90' + 2'
Yellow/Red Costin Lazar
90' + 1'
RED CARD! Nightmare for Lazar as the substitute picks up his second booking of the night for a foul on Holebas. He's off for the final few seconds and won't feature next Tuesday either.
Gekas has the ball in the net but it won't count. The subsitute gets on the end of Karagounis's free kick and eventually bundles home but his celebrations are cut short by the linesman's flag.
Yellow Card Costin Lazar
Costin Lazar is booked for rash tackle on Salpangidis. It's not been the most disciplined of performances from Victor Piturca's side this evening.
Alexandru Iulian Maxim
Indeed they do, as Maxim comes on in place of Tanase for Romania and Samaris is on for Katsouranis.
Into the last five we go then, and it looks as though both sides are going to make their final changes as well.
Still over five minutes to go plus stoppages but it's a difficult decision for Romania as to whether they stick or twist. They've still got a job to do in Bucharest if the score stays the same. On the other hand they can't afford to concede another.
Karagounis finds the ball at his feet inside the area but he slips as he shapes to shoot and the effort goes tamely wide.
There won't be any hat-trick for Mitroglou this evening as he is replaced by Gekas.
Karagounis is immediately in the thick of the action as he is fouled by fellow substitute Grozav. Another chance for the home side to deliver the ball into the area.
First substitution for the hosts as Karagounis comes on for Maniatis, who is given a little helping hand off the field by Tanase.
A couple of substitutions for the visitors. Lazar and Grozav come on for the final 15 minutes. Bourceanu, and surprisingly Torje, make way.
Stancu tries an audacious overhead kick, but his contact with the ball is almost too good as it comes flying off of his boot and over the bar.
Samaras comes forward once more as Greece look to put the tie to bed. He works his way up to the edge of the area but can't get his shot on goal, former Rangers man Goian blocking the Celtic player's effort.
CHANCE! Mitroglou is inches away from a hat-trick there as he latches onto Salpangidis's flick over the top. It's a similar chance to his first goal but he can't get enough power behind his volley on this occasion to flick it beyond Lobont, the keeper making a fine stop on this occasion.
Almost a fourth! The hosts break quickly again and Samaras plays in Hobelas down the left. The left-back fires a low cross across the face of goal but Katsouranis can't get the telling touch on the ball as he arrives at the front post.
Assist Kostas Katsouranis
Goal Konstantinos Mitroglou
GOAALLLL!!!! MITROGLOU AGAIN!!! Samaras is left to swing in the delivery and it's helped on at the front post by Katsouranis to Mitroglou who sets himself to fire a half-volley beyond Lobont and put Greece firmly in charge of this tie.
Torje tugs back Hobelas and that's another free kick to Greece in an attacking position.
No danger this time as the cross is headed clear by the first man. It certainly looks though that if Romania are going to get back into the tie this evening, the winger is going to be involved.
Yellow Card Kostas Katsouranis
Katsouranis dives in on the left flank and catches Marica. It's a poor challenge and he's booked for it. It also gives Torje another chance to whip in a dangerous delivery.
Nervy times for the visitors! Holebas swings in a free kick and at first the visitors can't clear, the ball bobbling around their area as Greece try to forge a shooting opportunity. Eventually they do get a foot to it and clear way down the field.
Bourceanu lets fly from some distance but seems to catch hold of more turf than ball as he skews his effort wide of the target. A look of disgust is quickly aimed at the pitch by the midfielder.
We are back under way and Greece have a corner as Holebas is tackled by Matel. The full-back will deliver the set piece himself.
Play is stopped here briefly as Marica goes to ground under a challenge from Holebas. He was caught by a late challenge there but I don't think the referee saw it.
Stancu goes to ground in the area under the challenge of Siovas. It looked like there may have been a slight push in the back but the officials aren't interested.
Samaras has the ball down the left and works some space in order to send in a cross. Unfortunately his attempted centre isn't one of his better attempts, the ball sailing behind Lobont's goal for a goal kick.
For a half with three goals, there weren't actually too many other chances on offer. Greece only managed three shots on target all half, while Romania could only manage two. Clinical finishing from both sides it would seem then.
We're back up and running then as Greece get us underway for the second period.
Both sides are back out in Athens. Will the second half produce the same sort of action as the first? We can only hope so!
Romania may have the better head-to-head record historically in this match up, but recent form does seem to favour Fernando Santos and his men. Ethniki have won five out of the last meetings between these sides.
FOOTBALL FACT-ORY: Before tonight, Fernando Santos's Greece side had kept a clean sheet in each of their last six outings and only Spain (three) had conceded less throughout World Cup Qualifying than Greece's four. It's not often that Greek defence is breached and that away goal could yet prove pivotal in this two-legged tie.
HALF-TIME: GREECE 2-1 ROMANIA. A truly pulsating opening 45 minutes as both teams look to seize the opening hand in this first-leg. Greece have the slight advantage at the moment with that one goal lead, but Stancu's away goal is a real blemish on the home side's first half report.
45' + 1'
The one minute of added time is up and that's it for the first half here in Athens!
I'm not sure Maniatis meant that, but he's almost found Mitroglou with an outstanding pass. He slides to intercept a ball as the visitors try to play the ball out of defence and chips over the back line in one movement. Unfortunately his team-mate is caught on his heels and Lobont is able to retrieve the situation.
Yellow Card Dorin Goian
Holebas swings in the corner but the whistle went before it could reach the area. It's for a foul by Dorin Goian and his name is also taken by the referee as he becomes the third player to go into the book for Victor Piturca's side.
Corner for Greece as Salpingidis has his dangerous cross turned behind by a yellow jersey. This will be the hosts' first of the game.
Yellow Card Dimitris Siovas
The number of bookings now match the number of goals as Greece pick up their first booking. Siovas goes in too hard through the back of Marica for referee Proenca's liking and the centre-back is cautioned.
Romania search for an equaliser and Tanase threads the ball through to Cocis. The striker can't keep his effort down though and blazes over Karnezis's crossbar.
CHANCE! Torossidis should be doing better from there. The ball sits up nicely for the attacker but he fluffs his lines and sends his half-volley into the side-netting.
Yellow Card Răzvan Cociş
Samaras threatens to bring the ball forward for Greece but doesn't get very far as Razvan Cocis takes him out. That's another free kick for the hosts and another booking for a player clad in yellow.
Torje lays off Matel down the right hand side. The full-back tries to cross but ends up testing Kamezis who has to be alert to palm the ball away ath his near post.
A bit of a stoppage as Maniatis receives treatment after going into a challenge with Tanase. He's in enough trouble for the Greek physios to be summoned but he's quickly back on his feet after receiving a spot of treatment from the magic sponge.
Forward come Greece once more and Celtic's Georgios Samaras gets a sight of goal. It's a tame effort though from the edge of the area and Lobont gets right behind it.
Not the best delivery and Greece are not only allowed to clear, but break up the field. Their counter attack is only halted by Bourceanu as he takes out Salpingidis. The defender is in the book for that challenge, despite his protests.
Yellow Card Alexandru Bourceanu
Nothing comes of the free kick and the visitors are able to counter. They win a corner and Torje is across again to take the set piece. Can his delivery be just as devastating this time around?
Greece look to build on their lead this time and have a free kick in the Romanian half after Stancu brings down Maniatis.
A barmy few minutes in Piraeus and suddenly we have a real game on our hands. Greece still have the lead but that previously impenetrable defence is looking a little shaky this evening.
Assist Vasilis Torosidis
Goal Dimitris Salpingidis
GOOOAAAALLL!!!! GREECE IN FRONT AGAIN!! We all know how the old saying goes - you're always at your most vulnerable when you've just scored. So it has proved again here as the hosts go straight up the other end after conceding and Salpingidis slides in at the back post to tap home from Torossidis's low centre. Greece lead again .Can they hold it this time?
Assist Gabriel Torje
Goal Bogdan Stancu
GOOOAAALLL!!! INSTANT RESPONSE FROM ROMANIA!!! Romania win a free kick wide on the left. Torje stands over it and whips a devilish ball to the back post. It looks for all the world as if the ball is going out for a goal kick but Stancu rises like a salmon at the back stick and threads his header between the keeper and his post. Game on!
Free kick in a central position for Greece. It's aimed towards Siovas at the back post but Razvan Rat does just about enough to put off the defender and Lobont gathers the ball.
The stadium is awash with smoke from a number of flares let off in celebration of the opening goal. Greece quickly have the ball back and Romania have a job on their hands to steady the ship here.
Assist Dimitris Salpingidis
Goal Konstantinos Mitroglou
GOOOAAAALLLL!!! GREECE LEAD!!! That is very tight. Mitroglou latches onto Salpingidis's lofted pass but there is more than a suspicion of offside after the visiting defence had stepped up after clearing the initial free kick. Still, a very tidy finish from the Olympiakos man, and the home side have the early advantage.
A sloppy pass from Samaras in the centre circle allows Torje to nick in and scamper down the right. Maniatis does well though to usher the winger to the sidelines and out of play.
Torje was on target the last time these sides met in 2011. He looks eager early on here too to make his mark on proceedings.
Romania come forward again and Torje winds up to shoot from some way out. He doesn't quite catch it though and the shot sails wide of Karnezis' left-hand upright.
A boisterous crowd in Greece tonight are getting behind their side. There was a few displays as the teams came out, including a giant Greece top passed over the top of fans.
First attack on the right for Romania as Torje finds Marica in the centre. The Getafe forward can't quite bring the ball under control though, otherwise he'd have had a free shot at goal.
Olympiakos forward Mitroglou goes down in the area as Tziolis tries to find him with a through-ball. Nothing doing on this occasion though as the referee waives it away. The right call in my opinion.
Portuguese referee Garcia Pedro Proenca blows his whistle and away we go!
A couple of notable absentees in both sides. Romania are without captain Vlad Chiriches after he broke his nose playing for Tottenham against Newcastle last weekend. There's also no Kyriakos Papadopoulos for the home side.
The sides are out in Athens and we now have the national anthems. A small pocket of Romanian fans wave their national flag in time to their anthem. The Greece national anthem is then belted out by just about everyone inside the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium. Rousing.
ROMANIA: (4-4-2) Lobont; Gardos, Goian, Rat, Matel; Tanase, Cocis, Bourceanu, Torje; Stancu, Marica.
GREECE: (4-3-2-1) Karnezis; Holebas, Sokratis, Torossidis, Maniatis; Tziolis, Siovas, Katsouranis; Mitroglou, Salpingidis; Samaras.
We're only 10 minutes away from kick off so let's get the team news ahead of the referee's whistle. We'll start with the hosts.
Meetings between these two sides have actually been pretty common over the years and it's only two years to the day since they last met. Greece came into that match on the 15th of November, 2011, on the back of an 18 match unbeaten run. That run was ended though by a resurgent Romanian side, who came away with a 3-1 victory in Vienna.
This will be the 32nd meeting between the two sides tonight, with Romania boasting a much stronger record on head-to-heads. They've won 17 of the previous 31 meetings between the pair, including a run that saw them go the first 15 games between the two sides without losing.
I'm Harry Slavin and I'll be here to take you through all the action from the Stadio Georgios Karaisakis in Piraeus. The ground is named after one of the heroes of the Greek war of Independence and the home side will need to find that fighting spirit tonight as they take on Victor Piturca's band of Romanians.
There are just two games separating Greece and Romania from the World Cup Finals in Brazil. The problem is only one can get there. We'll have a better idea of who will be sambaing their way to South America and who will be left at home watching on the TV as they take on each other this evening in the first-leg of their play-off encounter in Athens.
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