Soccer / Sports

Colombia scores 3, blanks Greece

The greatest gift from the soccer gods is greenlighting an early score by an attacking team against one whose only concern is protecting its net as if it were a Van Gogh original.

Greece, which eventually lost to Colombia, 3-0, is the word that best describes boring soccer to most of us. The Greeks' dream result is a 1-0 victory. As midfielder Giorgos Samaros, paraphrasing his coach, says, "Football is simple: You just have to defend your goal and score one goal."

When the other guys strike first, as Colombia did in the fifth minute, a match that easily could have become the World Cup's first yawner morphed into a delight. Greece, its game plan spoiled, uncharacteristically came forward all day and even had Colombia backpedaling for a while.

That the Greeks neglected to score should not lock them in for another decade to a style of play that is becoming rare, if not obsolete (or so we can hope.) They have clung to the defense-first/defense-second philosophy since it delivered an unlikely European Cup title in 2004.

By attacking, they nearly drew even Saturday. Colombian keeper David Ospina's save of the tournament (so far) denied the Greeks a goal just before halftime. Then, after a second score by the winners, a header by Greece banged off the crossbar and away harmlessly.

For a team that abandoned its core, the Greeks accounted well of themselves, never mind the 3-0 finale. After all, an overwhelmingly one-sided crowd made it a virtual home game for Colombia -- though the two-toned turf, with alternating strips of light and dark green, seemed lifted from Oregon's Autzen Stadium.

The round of 16 remains attainable for the Greeks in the Group of Life, as Group C has been dubbed because each member is fully capable of moving on. Perhaps they should consider that not packing it in on defense might actually spare them from packing their bags for an early trip home.

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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