Greece have beaten New Zealand’s All Whites 2-0 in their friendly international played in Athens.
Greece, who are rated 51st in the FIFA world rankings, had the better of the game against New Zealand who are ranked 103rd.
They deprived the All Whites of time on the ball and built attacks that had the New Zealanders back-pedalling for much of the game.
Greece scored twice in the opening third of the game, and then limited New Zealand’s possession and goalscoring opportunities.
Greece almost took the lead in the 6th minute when Anastasios Bakasetas drilled the ball from the edge of the area, hitting the New Zealand post.
Four minutes later, the host side went ahead when Giannis Konstantelias curled an innocent-looking ball into the New Zealand box.
Goalkeeper Michael Woud was late to see the danger and the ball crept inside the far post.
New Zealand felt they were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty when Chris Wood claimed he was twice fouled early in the game.
The strongest claim followed Wood being shoved off the ball by Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos but Swiss referee Luca Cibelli waved play on.
In the 11th minute, New Zealand got their first shot on target, with Callum McCowatt forcing a save from ‘keeper Odysseas Vlachodimos.
Woud made a good save in the 13th minute, diving to clear a potential own goal when the ball flew off the boot of Tommy Smith.
Greece doubled their lead in the 29th minute when Dimitrios Kourbelis was allowed a free header from a corner which Woud did well to save, only for the ball to rebound to Georgios Giakoumakis who scooped it into the net.
By half-time, Greece had justified their lead, with dangerous attacks mainly down their left flank and a strong defence that forced the All Whites to feed off scraps.
New Zealand skipper Chris Wood was taken off at half-time, as his game minutes were being managed following his hamstring injury, and both teams started making substitutions around the hour mark.
Ben Waine, on for Wood, got an early chance, turning in the box for a difficult shot which flew over the bar.
In the 75th minute, substitute Joe Champness weaved through the Greek defence and slid his cross temptingly across the face of the goal but no one was there to finish.
The second half wasn’t pretty and the empty stadium did nothing to add intensity to a game that ended tamely.
A two-minute highlights package is available from FIFA+:
Coach Darren Bazeley’s post-match reaction
All Whites head coach Darren Bazeley was in a bullish mood after his side’s 2-0 loss to Greece, saying: “We’re going to be a really good team.”
Greece manager Guys Poyet’s post-match reaction
Greece manager Gus Poyet was less-than-enthusiastic about the match, describing it as “a difficult game” in the conditions.
Greece / New Zealand
Possession: 54% / 46%
Shots: 17 / 10
Shots on target: 4 / 2
Passes: 513 / 442
Pass accuracy: 86% / 85%
Fouls committed: 12 / 12
Corners: 6 / 5
Offsides: 7 / 2
Game played on Saturday November 18, 2023 (NZT)
Georgios Kamaras Stadium, Athens, Greece, 6am (NZT)
Greece 2 (Giannis Konstantelias 10′, Georgios Giakoumakis 29′)
New Zealand 0
Odysseas Vlachodimos, George Baldock, Konstantinos Mavropanos, Panteleimon Hatzidiakos, Konstantinos Tsimikas, Dimitrios Kourbelis (Andreas Bouchalakis 70′), Giorgos Masouras (Dimitrios Pelkas 58′), Petros Mantalos (Georgios Tzavelas 90′), Giannis Konstantelias (Taxiarchis Fountas 57′), Anastasios Bakasetas (Konstantinos Galanopoulos 70′), Georgios Giakoumakis (Evangelos Pavlidis 57′)
Subs not used: Alexandros Paschalakis, Giorgos Athanasiadis, Panagiotis Retsos, Dimitris Giannoulis, Konstantinos Koulierakis, Manolis Saliakas, Tasos Chatzigiovanis, Sotiris Alexandropoulos, Fotis loannidis
Yellow card: Kourbelis (51′)
Michael Woud, Tyler Bindon (Finn Surman 83′), Liberato Cacace, Tim Payne, Tommy Smith, Joe Bell (Clayton Lewis 71′), Matthew Garbett (Joe Champness 71′), Marko Stamenic, Callum Mccowatt (Max Mata 83′), Sarpreet Singh (Eli Just 61′), Chris Wood (captain) (Ben Waine 46′)
Subs not used: Dalton Wilkins, Nando Pijnaker, Michael Boxall, Maxime Crocombe, Alex Greive, Alex Paulsen
Referee: Luca Cibelli (Switzerland)
Assistant: Matthias Sbrissa (Switzerland)
Assistant: Jan Köbeli (Switzerland)
Fourth official: Stefanos Koymparakis (Greece)