In Group C, with Colombia guaranteed to be moving on, I thought the game between Greece and Cote d'Ivoire, who were both fighting to move on, would be more interesting.
And it certainly was. Greece was missing their captain, of course, suspended for his red card in the previous game. And Ivory Coast made a small change, bringing Drogba in right away instead of as a later substitute.
And things did not get off to a great start for the Greeks, with Kone going down very early with an injury (though I missed what caused it).
In the thirteenth minute, both teams had decent chances to breaking players, forcing the goaltenders to come out and take the ball just before those breaking players could get a touch.
And I missed what happened again, but in the 18th, the Greek goaltender got a chiropractic adjustment (on the field) to delay the game. Whatever it was, six minutes later he was unable to continue, and subbed out (back spasms, maybe; those can be seriously debilitating).
Just before he went off, the Ivorians had a decent scoring chance, but Drogba's pass in the box was off, so they didn't even get a shot.
In any event, Karnezis going off meant that the Greeks had used two subs in the first twenty-four minutes. That definitely wasn't looking encouraging.
That didn't stop the Greeks from having a very nice counterattack that was headed into the bottom of the crossbar and out in the thirty-third minute. That sequence resulted in a close-in free kick as well, which got past the wall but was an easy save as it rolled to the keeper.
A couple minutes after that, Drogba continued his uncharacteristically ineffectual play by getting a yellow card. His defensive challenge did win the ball, but it was a dangerous challenge that could have easily broken the other guy's ankle. I must admit, though, that I don't think I understand what the standards are for cards, now; I thought getting the ball meant everything was ok (unless your cleats are directed into the other player). This was a case of solidly getting the ball, but getting the player afterward. I'm not saying it was ruled incorrectly (I don't know), but it wasn't ruled the way I expected.
One thing that surprised me was that the bulk of the offense seemed to be coming from, and through, Gervinho, rather than Drogba or Yaya Toure. He had one hell of a game, for sure. In any event, I wonder if that was fluke or design. I hadn't noticed him as much in the earlier games, but that might be entirely due to not having previously heard of him.
Be that as it may, the Greeks were the ones to score next, with Samaris capitalizing on a turnover from the Ivorian defense. That left the Greeks up by one at the end of the half, and put the Africans' backs against the wall.
In response to that, they started the second half by opening up a bit in the back. That helped them get the bulk of the chances, but not necessarily the best of them.
In the sixty-seventh, Kalou had a nice drive from the top-left portion of the box, but pushed the shot a couple of feet wide.
One minute later, the Greeks put a knuckleball of a shot off the crossbar; that one could have easily gone a foot higher or lower, and the goalie wouldn't've been able to do anything about it.
After several nice tries to get scoring chances, Gervinho does come through, and feeds Bony for an easy score, in close on the left, in the seventy-fourth.
But it only took five more minutes for the Greeks to ring the ball off the post again, and six more for the Ivorians to get it close. Two minutes after that, the Greeks were close again, with a pass going right across the wide-open goal mouth, but there was no one there for the tap-in.
And the Greeks got really close again in stoppage time, with Sio stopping the chance but getting called for a foul to give a Grecian penalty shot. And Samaras (not to be confused with Samaris, who'd scored earlier) calmly converted it for the goal, and the win.
So the Greeks are moving on, for the first time ever.
In the other game, surprising no one, Colombia crushed Japan to win the group.