Greece 3-1 Northern Ireland: visitors fall back to another Nations League defeat despite early attack by Shayne Lavery, but Ian Baraclough side avoid end of their group finishing
- Striker Shayne Lavery canceled a soft opening goal from Dimitrios Pelkas
- Goals from Georgios Masouras and Petros Mantalos ensured a deserved victory
- Cyprus’ defeat to Kosovo meant that Northern Ireland was not relegated
Northern Ireland avoided the threat of relegation from the Nations League on a hot night in Athens, but now faces a much tougher qualifying campaign for Euro 2024.
While Cyprus’ defeat to Kosovo has spared Ian Baraclough’s side the embarrassment of finishing at the bottom of Group C2, a disappointing evening at the Georgios Kamaras stadium means they are likely to fall into pot five for next year’s European Championship draw. month.
It was a jaded performance from Northern Ireland, three days after they beat Kosovo in Belfast to take their first Nations League win in 15 attempts.
Shayne Lavery jumped in the 18th minute to level a volley from close range
GREECE (4-3-3): Vlachodimos; Tsimikas, Hatzidiakos, Mavropanos, Baldock; Bakasetas (Bouchalakis 76), Kourbelis, Mantalos; Masouras (Chatzigiovanis 76), Ioannidis (Douvikas 67), Pelkas (Fountas 67). Subs: Kyriakopoulos, Alexandropoulos, Paschalakis, Barkas, Rota, Papanikolaou, Koulierakis.
Scorers: Pelkas 14, Masouras 55, Mantalos 80
Manager: Gus Poyet
N IRELAND (3-5-2): Pauw-Farrell; McNair, J. Evans, Flanagan; Bradley (Charles 68), Thompson (Saville 9), McCann, Davis, Lewis (Ferguson 76); Magennis (McMenamin 77), Lavery (Whyte 68). Subs: Charles, Hazard, C Evans, Balmer, Lane, Brown, Southwood.
Scorer: Lavery 18
Booked: Flanagan, McCann
Manager: Ian Baraclough
Referee: Filip Glova (Slovakia)
Blackpool striker Shayne Lavery nullified a soft opening goal from Dimitrios Pelkas, but Georgios Masouras and Petros Mantalos gave group winner Greece a deserved victory.
A defeat marred a historic night for Leicester City’s Jonny Evans, who captained the team on his 100th appearance and became just the fourth Northern Irishman to reach a century of caps.
Things got off to a slow start when a dizzy Jordan Thompson was forced out of the game in just the fifth minute after an off-the-ball challenge from Mantalos, who was then booked for a cynical foul on Ali McCann.
Worse still, Northern Ireland gave the hosts a goal in the 14th minute when Burnley goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell spilled a cross from Fotis Ioannidis after bumping into team-mate Paddy McNair and Hull striker Pelkas stooped to go home.
A mistake by captain Steven Davis led to Giorgos Masouras scoring the second from close range
Greece’s lead lasted just four minutes, however, as Steven Davis skipped a cross from the left and Lavery stole to lead the ball past goalkeeper Odusseus Vlachodomos.
Gus Poyet’s side started the second half strongly and regained the lead when Davis’ pass was intercepted and Mantalos teamed up with Anastasios Bakasetas to score for Masouras from close range.
Mantalos secured the victory in the 80th minute when Peacock-Farrell couldn’t resist his spectacular effort from 25 yards.
Petros Mantalos sealed the victory with a lightning bolt from 25 meters past goalkeeper Peacock-Farrell