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Spain inflict more misery on deposed Greeks

sports Updated: Jun 19, 2008 02:39 IST

Spain equalled their record of nine straight wins with a 2-1 defeat of Greece in Salzburg on Wednesday that confined the reigning champions to their third defeat of the tournament.

Andreas Charisteas opened the scoring for Greece before Ruben De la Red equalised and Daniel Guiza struck an 88th minute winner.

It was a game with nothing riding on it and for the first quarter both sides played as if in a training match.

Greece, who had already been knocked out before the game began, were surprisingly defensive for a game that mattered little and in which both teams had fielded weakened outfits.

Spain, already group winners, had actually made 10 changes from the starting XI that won their two previous matches.

Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso had the first effort on goal on 23mins, and had it gone in it would surely have been the goal of the tournament.

Spotting Greece goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis, captain for the day as he was playing in his final match for his country, well off his line Alonso hit a Beckham-esque shot from five yards inside his own half, missing the top corner by only inches with the back-peddling Nikopolidis beaten.

Surprisingly, Alonso seemed the only person trying to score in that opening period and he sent two long range shots wide of the left-hand upright.

On 39mins Cesc Fabregas played a great ball in for Sergio Garcia but he fell over as he tried to shoot.

Greece took the lead against the run of play on 42mins as Charisteas headed home a Giorgis Karagounis free-kick after losing his marker all too easily.

After the break it was Alonso again who tried his luck from distance, this time with a rasping drive from almost 30 yards that beat Nikopolidis but crashed off the inside of the post and away to safety.

However, Alonso played no part in Spain's well-worked equaliser with Fabregas chipping the ball into the box for Guiza, whose cushioned header back to De la Red was lashed home with venom - the Getafe man's first goal for his country in only his third appearance.

Greece came storming straight back and Charisteas took a pass from Alexandros Tziolis around goalkeeper Pepe Reina but could only hit the outside of the post from a tight angle.

On 73mins Guiza ran onto a lucky ricochet into the box but dragged his shot from the right just past the far post.

But two minutes from time striker Guiza scored his first goal for his country in his fifth appearance, heading home a cross from Sergio Garcia.