'Czech-mate': Greece to face Portugal in final

Greece defeated the Czech Republic 1-0 in a stunning upset to reach the final of Euro 2004.

updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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Traianos Dellas scored on a close-in header off a corner in extra time as Greece defeated the Czech Republic 1-0 in a stunning upset to reach the final of Euro 2004. A rank outsider and winless in their other appearances in big events - the World Cup in '94 and the 1980 Euro championship - Greece faces host country Portugal on Sunday in Lisbon's Stadium of Light. It marks the first time in 40 years that a Euro final will be staged between two first-time finalists. Greece defeated Portugal in the opening game of the tournament 2-1, and ousted defending champion France 1-0 in the quarterfinals. Clever play "I believe we played very cleverly," Dellas said. "We shut out all their strong points but countered and sometimes we were freezing the match. Asked about the winning goal yesterday, he said: "We believed in it from the beginning and we achieved it. Back home in Greece this night also belongs to them." Dellas also discounted the win three weeks ago against Portugal. "The first match is over it doesn't mean anything," he said. "A lot has changed in the middle and we will face a completely different Portugal team - stronger. "They will find a Greek team even better than in the opening match." Having become the first team to beat both the host and the defending champion in a major championship, the Greeks have now beaten the team which had been playing the best soccer. Now it's Portugal again. "We have only two days to rest and we have to do everything to be ready. It is too fast," said Stylianos Giannakopoulos. "It is a dream. It is like we are sleeping and we won't wake up." Silver goal Dellas scored off a corner delivered from Vasilios Tsiartas. The "silver goal" came just seconds before the first 15 minutes of extra time was to end. Had the period ended scoreless, it would have gone to another 15 minutes. After that, it would have been penalties. The Czechs were without captain Pavel Nedved from late in the first half after he picked up a right knee injury in the 33rd when he failed to connect on a cross in the box and collided with Costas Katsouranis. He went off on a stretcher, limped back on in the 36th and hobbled around until he was replaced in the 40th by Vladimir Smicer. Greece withstood early pressure as the Czech Republic took control from the start and tried to break the game open. After just over two minutes against the defensive Greeks, Tomas Rosicky's shot from 20 meters bounced off the crossbar. Marek Jankulovski kept up the pressure, striking a hard drive from 15 metres in the sixth minute, which went directly at `keeper Antonios Nikopolidis. Towering 2.03 metre (6-foot-9) Jan Koller sailed a high arching header in the 19th that Nikopolidis grabbed as it dropped just short of the crossbar. (AP)