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Australia 1 Greece 2: Spectacular Maniatis goal earns rare win

Giannis Maniatis scored a sensational goal from inside his own half to light up a scrappy international friendly as Greece defeated Australia 2-1 in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The Socceroos beat their European opponents 1-0 in the first game of a two-match series, Mathew Leckie netting the winner in stoppage time at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

But Michael Skibbe’s visitors gained revenge at Etihad Stadium, where Petros Mantalos opened the scoring.

An ill-tempered match will be remembered for Maniatis’ 20th-minute goal, the midfielder having embarrassed Australia goalkeeper Adam Federici with a goal worthy of the likes of David Beckham and Xabi Alonso.

The hosts, coached by Greek-born Ange Postecoglou, got one back though Trent Sainsbury following a goal-mouth scramble just before the hour mark, but they proved unable to claim an equaliser in an unusually incoherent display from the reigning Asian champions.

Greece started strongly and deservedly took the lead in the eighth minute.

Apostolos Vellios stole possession from Mark Milligan and found Andreas Samaris, who slid in Mantalos. The midfielder advanced into the area unopposed and dispatched a simple finish past Federici.

The visitors doubled their lead in spectacular fashion 12 minutes later. Maniatis, picking up possession inside his own half, spotted Federici off his line and dispatched a perfectly weighted lob over the stranded Bournemouth goalkeeper to score a remarkable long-range goal.

The Socceroos could muster little in response, threatening only sporadically and rarely calling Greece goalkeeper Stefanos Kapino into action.

Australia began the second half with more purpose, but Greece were inches away from making it 3-0 in the 56th minute as captain Vasilis Torosidis smashed a hooked attempt from a corner against the upright.

Two minutes later the disjointed hosts finally hit the back of the net, when Aaron Mooy swung in a corner that was met by the head of Tim Cahill. Milligan steered a header of his own from Cahill’s attempt on to the crossbar, before Sainsbury nodded the rebound into an unguarded net.

A slew of substitutions typical of international friendlies slowed the tempo as the match wore on, with neither side creating an opening of note in the closing exchanges.

Greece begin their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign at home to Cyprus on October 7, while Australia kick-off the fourth round of AFC qualifying against Iraq on August 31.

Tue 7 Jun, 2016
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