Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Greece 1 Spain 2: Easy does it for Webb and Spain

Five bookings, no red cards and no penalties. It was a quiet day at the office for Howard Webb in an admittedly undemanding match.

Whether Webb will now return home like Greece, or remain at Euro 2008, like Spain, may become clear with today's announcement of the officials for the third and fourth quarter-finals.

Like Webb Spain's reserves were looking to earn a starring role in the latter stages but Luis Aragones' first XI seems settled and the stiffs know it. They were nevertheless too good for the holders despite conceding Greece's first goal of the tournament to Angelos Charisteas. Spain stirred and struck through Ruben de la Red and, with two minutes left, Dani Guiza.



They had previously gone closest through Xabi Alonso, as well as hitting the post after 54 minutes he embarrassed Antonis Nikopolidis, in the 'keeper's final match as an international, with his party piece. Alonso took possession in his own half and drove a 60-yard shot which just went wide, but caused the scrambling Nikopolidis to clatter into the post. Fortunately the 37-year-old recovered.



Greece finally scored when Giorgos Karagounis' floated free-kick was met by Charisteas, who was unmarked. As is their style Greece sat back and paid for it. First De la Red thrashed Dani Guiza's lay-off past Nikopolidis. Then, after Charisteas had gone around Pepe Reina but hit the post, Guiza drifted free to head in Sergio Garcia's cross.



Spain now meet Italy. "It may be the most difficult quarter-final," said Arag-ones, "we have a great opponent, but they will think the same about us."



Greece (4-5-1): Nikopolidis; Vintra, Dellas, Kyrgiakos (Antzas, 62), Spiropoulos; Salpingidis (Stelios, 86), Basinas, Karagounis (Tziolis, 72), Katsouranis, Amanatidis; Charisteas.



Spain (4-2-3-1): Reina; Arbeloa, Juanito, Albiol, Navarro; Alonso, De la Red; Iniesta (Cazorla, 57), Fabregas, Garcia; Guiza.



Referee: H Webb (England).



Man of the match: Alonso.



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