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Greece 0-2 Paraguay: Paraguayans exploit Greek problems in Switzerland

( Paraguay carved the Greek defense open as the South Americans took it to the Europeans in the final preparation friendly for both sides…
Two first half goals by Enrique Vera and Lucas Barrios gave Paraguay an impressive 2-0 win over Greece on Wednesday as both sides now look forward to the World Cup, but with very different mindsets.
The Greeks, who were coming off a disappointing draw against North Korea last week, looked flat in offense with key man Theofanis Gekas missing from the line-up through an injury he picked up during training. The main problems, however, appeared to have come from the Greek defense, which looked very unorganized as Paraguay was able to get in behind the Greek back-line on many occasions.
Although it was Greece controlling most of the possession early on, Paraguay was able to create chances with the very few touches they had in the opening minutes. The first chance for the South Americans very nearly turned into the first goal of the game as Lucas Barrios was sent on a through ball, and looked set to score until a sliding save by Greece ‘keeper Alexandros Tzorvas.
The Paraguayans continued to poor on the pressure on Greece, with Roque Santa Cruz making his presence felt off a corner-kick. The Manchester City striker came within inches of providing the breakthrough, but an instinct save by Giourkas Seitaridis off the goal-line kept the game scoreless.
There was nothing Seitaridis or the rest of the Greek defense could do just moments later. Santa Cruz was sent on a break towards the Greek and looked to have missed the effort when his chip over Tzorvas caught the far post; however, a late-arriving Vera was able to tap the rebound into the empty Greek goal as Paragauay took the lead after just nine minutes.
It didn’t take long for Paraguay to make it 2-0 as another rebound resulted in easy work for Gerardo Martino’s side. Another sharp save by Tzorvas on a header from Santa Cruz resulted in a huge rebound, which found its way to Barrios and the Borussia Dortmund youngster made no mistake for his side’s second goal of the match.
With their pride wounded by Paraguay’s quick goals, Greece looked to mount some sort of response before the interval. The 2004 European Champions had plenty of possession in the early parts of the frame, but the final fifteen minutes of the first half showed some promise from Otto Rehhagel’s men.
Sotiris Ninis was the conductor in most of Greece’s offensive endeavours as the Panathinaikos youngster combined with the likes of Dimtrios Salpingidis and Giorgos Samaras on many occasions before the break. In fact, it appeared Ninis had assisted on Greece’s first goal of the match when a centering pass inside the Paraguay box found Salpingidis unmarked in front of the goal, but the goal was called back on a suspicion of offside.
Greece continued to press, however, and before the referee’s half-time whistle there were quality chances for the likes of Alexandros Tziolis, who fired just wide of the Paraguay goal, as well as a header from Samaras that crept just over Justo Villar’s crossbar.
Although his side managed to create some sparks in offense just before the half-time whistle, Rehhagel still opted to make some changes during the interval with proven Greece internationals Giorgos Karagounis and Angelos Charisteas making an introduction in between halves.
It took just a few minutes for Greece to find their feet in attack as Vasilis Torosidis, who was rather quiet in the first frame, forced a fine save from Villar with a curling effort from just outside the Paraguay box.
At the other end, Avraam Papadopoulos surely save a goal as he poked the ball off of Santa Cruz after a mistake by Tzorvas allowed the Premier League hitman an open-look at the Greek goal.
Greece should have pulled a goal back just before the hour mark, but Tziolis’ one-time volley sailed just wide of Paraguay’s goal.
Meanwhile, Tzorvas was kept a little more busy in the Greek end as second-half substitutes Benitez and Edgar Barreto combined to force the Greece number-one into a sharp reflex save. Paraguay’s chances continued with Benitez the next to send an effort wide of Tzorvas’ goal, this time a header sailing over the Greek net.
Even with the rain in St. Gallen wrapping up a sombre evening for the Greeks, Samaras continued to shine bright as a slick bit of footwork on the left flank followed by a burst of energy very nearly developed into a meaningful effort for the ‘Galanoleuki’, only until the Paraguay defense muscled the Celtic striker off the ball.
With Greece’s set-pieces producing very little, it was clear the Greeks were outclassed on the night as Paraguay’s team chemistry was well intact and on display late-on as the South Americans showed their confidence with the ball with nearly each player getting a touch in one possession near the tail-end of the contest.
The result is a crushing one for Greece, who were looking a confidence boost ahead of their meeting with South Korea on 12 June. Paraguay’s impressive run was well rewarded even with Oscar Cardozo and Nelson Valdez out of the line-up, and gives ‘La Arbirroja’ a perfect send-off ahead of their World Cup opener against defending champions Italy.
Greece 0-2 Paraguay
Vera 9′, Barrios 25′
Greece (Otto Rehhagel): Tzorvas, Seitaridis, Torosidis, A. Papadopoulos, Kyrgiakos (46′ Vyntra), Tziolis, Katsouranis (58′ Patsatzoglou), Ninis (46′ Karagounis), Samaras, Salpingidis (46′ Charisteas), Kapetanos (75′ Spiropoulos).
Paraguay (Gerardo Martino): Villar, da Silva, Veron (74′ Santana), Morel Rodriguez (66′ Benitez), Bonet, Vera (80′ Barreto), B. Caceres, Riveros (80′ Ortigoza), Torres, Santa Cruz, Barrios (66′ Caniza).
Referee: Cyril Zimmerman

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