Keeper Martin Skrtel`s howler hands Greece fortunate victory
Athens: A freak own goal by Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel gave Greece a 1-0 victory over Slovakia on Friday that kept them in the running to top World Cup Group G qualifying.
Fernando Santos`s team were in the ascendancy for long spells and claimed all three points at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium thanks to a woeful error by goalkeeper Jan Mucha in the 44th minute.
Mucha took his eye off the ball when Skrtel rolled a simple back pass to him and the ball sneaked under the keeper`s foot and across the line.
Skrtel`s night went from bad to worse after the final whistle when he was shown a red card for fighting with defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos as the players were leaving the pitch.
Greece are in second place with 22 points, the same total as leaders Bosnia who have a vastly superior goal difference of plus-23 compared to plus-6.
Qualification is now down to the fixtures on Tuesday when Greece entertain bottom team Liechtenstein and Bosnia travel to fourth-placed Lithuania.
Greece were without suspended midfielder Kostas Katsouranis but an attacking lineup featuring four forwards in Giorgos Samaras, Dimitris Salpigidis, Kostas Mitroglou and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos helped them dominate the first half.
Salpigidis went close after six minutes when his header was palmed off the line by Mucha.
Slovakia`s main threat came from the flanks with Vladimir Weiss and Miroslav Stoch, who play their club football in Greece with Olympiakos Piraeus and PAOK Salonika respectively, but there was little end product.
Greece were good value for their halftime lead even though it came in fortuitous circumstances.
The home team continued to dominate in the second period even though Mitroglou, scorer of four hat-tricks for Olympiakos already this season, was subdued.
The bearded striker almost scored though when his close range effort was cleared off the line by Tomas Hubocan.
Salpigidis then had a shot blocked by a defender when he looked to have a clear sight of goal.