Greece, Algeria book places at World Cup finals

Last Updated: Nov 19, 2009, 08:46 AM IST

London: Algeria and Greece both scored 1-0 victories to become the 27th and 28th countries to book their places at next year`s World Cup finals on Wednesday.

Just four places remained to be settled for the 32-team finals in South Africa next year with the second legs of three European playoffs taking place as well as the second leg of the South American/CONCACAF playoff between Costa Rica and Uruguay in Montevideo.

France were meeting Ireland in Paris, Slovenia were playing Russia in Maribor and Bosnia were meeting Portugal in Zenica in the deciding legs of their ties.

Algeria beat arch-rivals Egypt 1-0 in their play-off in neutral Sudan and booked their place when defender Antar Yahia scored five minutes before halftime.

Algeria, who last reached the finals in 1986, took the sixth and last African spot in the finals, just four days after losing 2-0 to Egypt in Cairo which meant the two countries finished with identical records in their qualifying group forcing the sudden-death encounter.

Greece, who were held to a 0-0 draw by Ukraine in Athens on Saturday, went to Ukraine as underdogs, but stunned the home team in Donetsk, winning after a first-half goal from Dimitris Salpigidis.

Ukraine had their opponents on the back foot for much of the game and missed early chances through Andriy Shevchenko and Olexandr Aliev but it was the visitors who grabbed the winner against the run of play.

Striker Giorgos Samaras sliced open the Ukrainian defence in the 32nd minute with a pin-point pass for Salpigidis who beat keeper Andriy Pyatov from eight metres and sent Greece to the World Cup for only the second time.

Bureau Report