Reduced to 10 men after captain Costas Katsouranis was sent off in the 38th minute, Greece held on for a 0-0 draw with Japan on Thursday, keeping both teams alive in Group C and sending rival Colombia to the next stage of the tournament.
Both teams employed new strikers in search of goals and a first victory, but ultimately the goal was survival and both did that with one match left in group play. Japan would have been eliminated with a loss.
Once Katsouaranis was sent off after a rough challenge on Makoto Hasebe, Greece withdrew into a defensive setup and held firm.
Greece surrendered three goals in a loss to Colombia, but even short-handed was better organised against Japan and avoided any critical mistakes.
Both sides were looking to get their campaigns back on track after losing their opening encounters.
Japan dominated possession but were unable to make the most of the chances they created against a Greek defence which once again looked like the one that conceded four goals in 10 qualifying matches for Brazil.
The Asian champions, who opened their campaign with a 2-1 defeat to Ivory Coast, stayed true to the attacking style that made them the first country to qualify for Brazil but will need to beat Colombia in their final match to have a chance of progressing.
Colombia top Group C with six points from their first two games ahead of Ivory Coast with three. Japan face the Colombians on Tuesday in Cuiaba, when Greece meet the African team in Fortaleza.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP)
Date created : 2014-06-20