Greece sealed its place at next year’s World Cup after a 1-1 draw against Romania in the second leg of their playoff on Tuesday, advancing 4-2 on aggregate.
Kostas Mitroglou, who scored twice in a 3-1 victory on Friday last week in Piraeus, gave Greece the lead in the 23rd minute, beating Romania’s offside trap to control a cross from Giorgos Karagounis and steer the ball past goalkeeper Ciprian Tatarusanu.
Romania came back into the game in the 55th minute when a botched Greece clearance led to an own goal by Vassilis Torosidis. However, the Greeks held on for the draw and a second straight qualification for the World Cup.
Moments after the final whistle at Bucharest’s National Arena, Greece players lifted coach Fernando Santos and heaved him into the arena to cheers from 2,000 traveling fans.
“I thank God and I thank the players who were fantastic. We are going to Brazil and that’s amazing,” the Portuguese coach said, publicly speaking Greek for the first time since taking over the national team three years ago.
He added, in Portuguese: “I think it is a great thing for Greece that we are going to our second consecutive World Cup... And certainly this is a huge moment for me, personally.”
Romanian fans pointed lasers at players and hurled firecrackers onto the pitch at stages — one hitting defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos — but applauded the Greek team after the match.