2.45pm: Hello and welcome to coverage of an intriguing mid-group-stage clash. No offence to Greece, and with apologies to the evergreen retro oeuvre of John Travolta; but today the word is, not Greece, but Nigeria. It is quite hard to be neutral with this one. What the World Cup needs is, surely, another African win - and another African team with a chance of making the last 16.
The teams are in:Greece: 12-Alexandros Tzorvas; 11-Loukas Vyntra, 16-Sotiris Kyrgiakos, 15-Vassilis Torosidis, 6-Alexandros Tziolis, 8-Avraam Papadopoulos, 19-Socratis Papastathopoulos, 10-Giorgos Karagounis, 21-Kostas Katsouranis; 14-Dimitris Salpingidis, 17-Fanis Gekas.Nigeria: 1-Vincent Enyeama; 17-Chidi Odiah, 6-Danny Shittu, 2-Joseph Yobo, 3-Taye Taiwo, 12-Kalu Uche, 20-Dickson Etuhu, 15-Haruna Lukman, 14-Sani Kaita, 8-Yakubu Aiyegbeni, 11-Peter Odemwingie.Referee: Oscar Ruiz (Colombia)
2.47pm: Nothing to do with Greece being a rather cautious team of course (although Gekas was Europe's top scorer in qualifying).
2.48pm: Nikos the Greek fan has encouraging news on that front: "We've reverted back to the successful 3-4-3 with 21 yr old Papastathopoulos and 31 yr old Kyrgiakos back in. The key to the game will be using the energy of the CM to close down Nigeria and get the ball out wide with pace. Gekas should have more opportunities if overlapping "wing-backs" can hit the by-line. Look out for 19 yr old Ninis to replace Karagounis in the second half if still looking for that vital "spark"." Indeed.
2.51pm: Of course, Nigeria have hardly set the tournament alight, the wondrous Enyeama apart. But this is a must-win game against a team notably bereft of Messi-level attacking geniuses. Perhaps the only thing the Nigeria defence have to fear today is the implicit fate-tempting warning in the right side of their own defence, which is made up of Odiah and Shittu. Let's hope there will be none of that today. Greece, of course, have to win or they're pretty much certain to be out of here. Two desperate teams who have to win. What could possibly go wrong?
2.52pm: You can of course email me your thoughts on email@example.com, or if you like communicate with me via Twitter if that's your bag. Greece. I feel slightly weary reminding you, have yet to score at the World Cup finals. Any World Cup finals. So let's hope a slice of history.
2.55pm: The teams are out. Nigeria in groovy green zip-up V-necks. Some vague mumbling from the Greeks during their anthem. They look - how to put this nicely? - quite a grizzled lot.
2.57pm: And... Obafemi Martins is wearing gloves. In the sunshine. Although to be fair it was quite chilly last night in Blomefontein.
2.59pm: Gekas looks to be playing as a lone striker in this formation, at the head of a 4-1-4-1. Nigeria are in a more attacking 4-4-1-1, with Odemwingie lurking in the hole.
3.01pm: Nath Jones is pshawing: "Nikos the Greek fan's "3-4-3 with overlapping wing-backs" conjures up thoughts of some brilliant 1-6-3 formation which will set the World Cup alight, similar to the unbeatable 1-4-5 formation on Championship Manager '93. I'm guessing Greece will actually play a 5-4-1 in practice, though, yep?"
1 mins: Greece kick us off and they're straight into a spell of meandering keep-ball in their own half. It already looks more like a back five than a flying wing-backs situation, but early days here.
3 mins: Nigeria have their first little spell but it peters out as Yakubu puts in a slightly surprising early "reducer" on Karagounis ands it's a free kick. And Ben Davis notes: "Darren Anderton has scored more world cup goals than Greece. Just a thought." Darren Anderton has probably also got more cash in the bank than Greece.
5 mins: First attempt at a genuine attack from both sides: a pair of overhit crosses from Nigeria's left hand side and Greece's right. Both nowhere near the sole man skulking anywhere near in the box. Oh dear. None of that please. We need a a winner today. Mohammed Syed muses: "Whats the point of Greece even turning up. They're going to get hammered. As they're a bit skint they should have sold the slot to Turkey or Russia." Greece will of course be looking to silence these taunts with a feats of joyful attacking football.
8 mins: An extremely slow and cagey start here as both teams gird themselves for the inevitable explosion of goals. Gekas is ridiculously isolated in attack when Greece defend. There are simply no white shirts anywhere near him. Constantino objects: "In response to your early comment about preferring an African team to go through... I would like nothing more than to see another African team through to the next round, but 2004 cursed us forever with expectations. So when we fail badly today I will in despair. The only thing worse than a glimmer of hope is the misery of knowing we can do better." Is that a lyric from a Smiths song?
11 mins: Greek free-kick wide on the left 40 yards from goal. Karagounis swirls it in and Yobo rises massively, the ball making a meaty "thwunk" as he heads it clear. At least Greece chucked some players forwards there. And here they come again, nice cross from the right by Vyntra but it's behind Gekas. That was brighter. And now Katsouranis has a shot at goal from about 45 yards out, easily palmed down, but you appreciate the thought. Neil Colquhoun picks up: "To pick you up slightly on one point, Barney – surely if Greece lose today they're definitely the first team eliminated? (I have a prediction comp riding on this!)". Yes,. you are of course right.
14 mins: Nice little ball down the left channel from Etuhu that Yakubu scampers after but he just can't get there. And now Papadopoulos has been booked for a pull back on the sprightly Odemwingie. Nice pressure from Nigeria.
16 mins: NIGERIA SCORE!!! A terrible error from the Greek goalkeeper and frankly a bizarre goal, as the scorer Uche curled in a free-kick from 45 yards, looking to find one of his strikers, and Tzorvas simply dived the wrong way when if he'd stood there he would have saved it. That was extraordinary. Terrible for Greece. A genuine - and I'm afriad hilarious - gaffe from the keeper.
18 mins: Greece are looking ragged here, various players pointing and yelling at each other. Tzorvas will be feeling terrible. He seemed to be dummied by one of the Nigeria players in front of him, but ended up just letting the ball bounce through into his net. Katsouranis has a shot that's blocked on the edge of the box. At least Greece will have to attack now.
21 mins: Nigeria have a free kick 35 yards out, which Taiwo blasts at the wall and it skitters off for a corner. Nervously defended by Greece but they eventually hack it clear. The goalkeeper really does look edgy after that howler. And Greg Cross snickers: "Will the Greeks use this opportunity to track down the Nigerian whose email they responded to..?!", expressing his own sentiments hem hem and not those of this august online organ.
24 mins: Greece are venturing forward here, both wing-backs getting up and down and Karagounis to the fore, but blimey he's lost whatever pace he ever had and looks terribly immobile. He lumps a long free kick into the box but Shittu rises to bunt it clear with his massive head. Not really the best way to attack this imposing Nigerian central defence. Oliver Pattendon asks: "We were assured no goalkeeping gaffe would top Green's in this World Cup... how did this measure up??" Oh. Well. Not in that territory. I would say definitely funnier though. In the end he simply leapt out of the way.
27 mins: Now Nigeria hoof in a long free kick but it's scuffed and Greece break with Gekas and Vyntra, but Karagounis fluffs his lines with a terrible pass and it's all over for now. Greece are trying. They are just terribly limited. James Wells notes gravely "I think the lesson of the 2010 World Cup is that we can take men's football seriously only when the standard of goalkeeping reaches that of women's football."
29 mins:Nigeria on the other hand look a bit more sprightly when they come forward. You really do feel this creaking Greece team is there for the taking if they can just be a bit more precise. James Nderitu writes: "Nigerias have just but to win. Keep up guys. We are with u from Africa." And Greece have a corner, swung in by Karagounis and headed well over by Kyrgiakos rising above the immense Shittu.
32 mins: Torosidis gets absolutely clogged by Odia going up for a high ball. That looked extremely painful, he was essentially crushed by a massively bigger man and just for a second looked like a very small child being squashed by a wardrobe.
33 mins: KAITA IS SENT OFF. A straight red card. Unbelievable indiscipline. A minor coming together off the pitch and he raises his foot to brush the knee of Katsouranis, who goes down in a heap of gamesmanship. But entirely Kaita's fault. He trudges off looking totally shattered. That came out of nothing. Disaster for Nigeria.
36 mins: Immediately Greece have their best chance of the game, Torosidis flying in from the left to meet a deep cross and head just over. Nigeria look in a state of shock and they have really shot themselves in the foot here. Meanwhile Alex Hendrikson muses: "My girlfriend has asked me to email her choice selections from your excellent minute by minute coverage. I now find myself providing minute by minute updates of minute by minute coverage, have things gone to far?" Frankly, you had me at "email her choice selections".
37 mins: Papadopoulos is off and the more attacking Samaras, formerly of Manchester City and also pomp metal band Queen, is on.
39 mins: Crucial moments in this game as Greece attack and Nigeria crawl towards half-time and a much-needed re-organisation. Greece are pouring it on here. Samars almost gets on to a loose ball in the six yard box after a neat low cross from Karagounis. Colin Greer asks "Do you buy into the notion that an African team's win equates a win for the entire African continent? Or is this another slice of lazy punditry? Are you (and your compatriots) overwhelmed with joy when Germany wins?" Oh dear, look Africans generally want an African team to do well: this is their first ever World Cup. if Europe had never had the tournament and also never won it most of Europe would probably be cheering Germany on.
41 mins: Haruna clears off the line, kicking the ball away from his post after a corner. That was a groovy kind of flicked attempt at a finish from Samaras that was bouncing inside the post and Haruna did his job. Great stuff from Greece. Samaras has made a big difference. They have an attacking focus now. Nat Guillhou asks: "All this African bonhomie is lovely to see, but how real is it? Any idea of which fixtures would be the 'grudge matches' on said continent?" Good question. Let's ask Paul Doyle.
44 mins: GREECE SCORE!!! It's 1-1 as Salpingidis pings one in low from the right edge of the penalty area and it's deflected off Haruna up and over the diving goalkeeper's flailing arm. The ball broke back to Salpingidis and he hit it powerfully. That is Greece's first ever World Cup goal - and they deserved it too.
45+1mins: Nigeria have a free-kick 40 yards from goal and it's their first attack since they had a man sent off. Taiwo sends another scudder in that this time Tzorvas is able to flop down on and clutch to his chest. Nigeria in truth look shell-shocked. they had been coasying in this game.
45+2mins: HALF TIME. Nigeria have an odd team huddle in the centre circle as the whistle goes, not sure what the manager will think about that, but they must be furious with themselves. Still, it's turned into a decent game now. I'll be back in ten minutes with more.
3.58pm: Colin Greer explains: "I just find it hard to believe that an Egyptian would want Algeria to do well - just because they're African." Neil Hutchison points out :"Biggest grudge match has to be Algeria v Egypt, surely? The Algerian fans rioted on the Champs Elysees in Paris after they WON against Egypt." Alasdair Simpson adds: "Re: African grudge matches: Nigeria vs Cameroon would be one. And Nigeria vs. Ghana. In fac, pretty much any African nation versus Nigeria would be a grudge match because Nigerians have an irritating (and often misplaced) sense of effortless superiority. And this is coming from a Nigerian." Is Alasdair Simpson a traditional Nigerian name? Just asking.
4.00pm: Tom Cleal on evil looks: "My favourite evil looks this tournament have been the Nigerian Goalkeepers to his defenders, and of course Beckham's lovely mug. I reckon the Nigerian keeper clips his defenders round the ears in the dressing room if they've been naughty." Jim Lewis asks: "Just wondering if you lot at the guardian have done a sweepstake for the world cup? I organised ours at work and got... Greece. Yeah, thanks for that!" I got Serbia. Not much point really is there, unless you get one of about three teams. And Michael Dear says on German TV Oliver Khan has just "explained using slow-motion footage why Nigeria's free kick was not necessarily the goalkeeping error that it looked to be at first glance - the poor keeper had to expect that the Nigerian in front of him would head the ball, hence the strange reaction." He would say that.
4.01pm: Interesting note from Andrew Thomas: "In answer to Colin Greer, a bit of anecdotal evidence: prior to the game, 5live had an interview with two Zambian gentlemen who were attending the game. They were doing so on the basis that, since Zambia had failed to qualify, they were supporting the Nigerians. They seemed happy to do so, and there was no sense that such treachery might undermine their credibility as Zambia fans. Perhaps us Europeans couldlearn a thing or two from such a mature attitude to football? And might I just add, as a proud Welshman - COME ON ALGERIA!"
4.03pm: Paul Doyle says: "Senegal v Gambia. Nigeria v Ghana. Plus of course Eritrea v Ethiopia."
46 mins: Nigeria kick off and Haruna amazingly has a shot right from the kick off, and not a bad one, the ball floating just over the bar. Bizarre opening though.
47 mins: Greece on the attack straIght away through Vyntra on the right, but his decent cross is headed horribly over the bar by Karagounis. That was bizarrely malcoordinated. By the way Obasi has come on for Odemwingie at half time. He's a tricky winger. And this just in: "No Alasdair Simpson isn't a traditional Nigerian name - good spot. I just shorten it to make life easier for my colleagues. My full name is Alasdair Osondu Kelechi Nnawuihe-Simpson. Which is at least 50% authentic Nigerian." Ah ha.
49 mins: Some pressure at last from Nigeria and they win a corner, but it comes to nothing as Shittu is penalised for pushing. Karagounis has a shot from 40 yards that flies over and both teams are at it, shooting on sight. Yaser muses: "Even though I am rooting for an African team to do well in this world cup, that is only for my own selfish reasons; I am hoping that we get an extra African spot for the next world cup so that Egypt might finally qualify! But with that said, there is NO WAY I am cheering for Algeria." Take that Wales.
51 mins: A lull after all this rampant attacking. But wait here come Greece with the mercurial Samaras, but Tsoridis is robbed and Yakubu breaks very swiftly for Nigeria. Taiwo crosses but his ball in is absolutely horrible and he also seems to have injured himself in the process. He's flat on his back holding his groin and grimacing wildly. Armoured Dillon wonders:"Did Wales get a bye into the second round of this World Cup? Some teams are into their second match already in this tournament and I haven't seen Wales playing any group games yet..."
54 mins: Nigeria are defending with nine men on the pitch. Kyrgiakos rises well and meets Karagounis' cross but his header is greedily clasped by Enyeama. Taiwo is limping away and he's been replaced by Echejile. Marius Roodt writes from SA: "There's nothing wrong with African solidarity. After South Africa I will be rooting for any African side in this tournament. And Since South Africa is very unlikely to be making it to the second round, I'll probably end up supporting Ghana or Ivory Coast, probably the two African sides with the best chance of making through to the second round."
57 mins: Lovely thumping tackle by Obasi on Katsouranis. That's what Nigeria need. Lovely to see a proper tackle going in with no free kick given too. I love a tackle.
59 mins: Amazing scenes here, out of nothing. Free kick to Greece by the corner flag and eventually the ball breaks to Gekas, but his shot is brilliantly saved by Enyeama at popint blank range: then Nigeria break the length of the field, Yakubu is in on goal but Tzorvas saves well, the ball breaks to Obasi and he misses an open goal, shanking it wide from an angle. Lovely sweeping break by the nine men. Surely they won't get a better chance than that.
61 mins: Greece strike back with a wild shanked shot from Samaras. Nigeria get back down the other end and Yakubu's cross is just too high for Etuhu. Quite open this now. On Wales, Ian Burch sympathises "Didn't they get drawn in the group of death with Graggy Island, Rugged Island and Iran?". And Nath Jones hits back: "I've missed a bit of the MBM through 'doing some work' - where did this Wales-baiting come from? It's usually a sign that England aren't playing very we... oh, sorry."
64 mins: Still Greece having most of the play here with Nigeria looking to break when they can. Lee James wonders: "Is Yakubu now the world-cups leading contender to win the Mark Viduka award for use of ones' unfeasible large bottom as a weapon? I never thought I'd say this but is there any sign of Martins coming on to lend some potency to their attack?" He's certainly packing some shanks back there.
66 mins: Weird watching these two. Greece are doing a really spirited but ultimately unconvincing impersonation of a team who know how to pour forward in attack. And Nigeria are pretending to be comfortable sitting back and craftily breaking. Having said that, really nice little run from Gekas on to Torosidis' cross and a neat header, but some great defending from Yobo puts it behind for a corner. That's followed by a quite amazingly athletic save from Enyeama, leaping to palm away a header that was going into the top corner from I think Karagounis. Great stuff.
70 mins: Still Greece keep coming. Replay of that save and it was from Samaras. Spectacular and a bit show but still needed to get there.
71 mins: GREECE SCORE!!! Oh dear, Enyeama. A shot through a crowd by Karagounis, swerves violently, but Enyeama can only palm it out straight to Torosidis four yards out and all he has to do is poke it in. Shades of Robert Green there, and also no doubt something that will be put down to the ball. Terrible error though either way but credit to Greece: 1-0 down, 2-1 up.
74 mins: Echiejile, who came on as a sub himself on 55 mins is now being substituted. He's pulled his hamstring. Samaras has a shot from distance that flies just wide of the post, then Nigeria break rampantly and Yakubu turns and has a shot that grazes the right hand post. This is a very good name now, and still hard to call. Chris Saville notes: "It's not all bad blood between England and Wales, I managed to get my Plaid Cymru voting girlfriend singing Three Lions on Saturday." A wonderful image and on that note can I remind you that tomorrow's Guardian will carry a full special programme devoted to England v Algeria, for those in the UK (note: includes Wales).
77 mins: Greece have taken the air out of this a bit now, perhaps remembering they have a goal and a man advantage. If they can hang on this will be their best moment in World Cup history. Ninis is coming on for Gekas. He is apparently the future of Greek football, an elusive, jinky attacker (note: not an incredibly defensive sideways-passing midfielder).
80 mins: Lovely whipped all in from the Greek right wing and Smaras can only shin it wildly over the bar. That was a decent chance. Will Davies points out "the play actor involved in Kaita's sending off was Torosidis. Makes it all the more galling now that he just scored. grrr". And Jesse McLure sighs "Every World Cup I pray that Nigeria will not succumb to the sterotype of being naive, ill-disciplined and mentally weak, and every four years, they let me down." Trying to prove otherwise Uche cuts in from the left and whizzes a low shot just past the far post. Nice work. More of it, quick.
83 mins: Nigeria are having more of the ball but it's terribly hard for the 10-men at this stage. Having said that they could commit a few more players forward or they're going out in seven minutes. Ansgar Locke points out "Whats that with the Guardian just for the UK? I'm sitting here in Cork, Ireland and will buy the paper tomorrow." Breaking news: Guardian doubles England World Cup programme sales in Ireland.
87 mins: Nigeria look a little tired here. This game has been all about that sending off, which let me remind you, happened after an incident off the pitch when the ball was dead. How clueless can you get? Still Greece press and Samaras has another shot that flies wide. He is the Maradona of the shot that flies wide.
89 mins: Mow Samaras is booked for a foul on Odia, a horrible lunge at the shins. nigeria pump the resultant free kick into the Greek box but it doesn't get there and Torosidis heads clear. Danny Myers points out: "Nigeria aren't out - any kind of win against Korea and an Argentinian victory against Greece and they go through…Has anyone done that before - lost their first two matches and made significant progress beyond that?" Not sure; also not sure it's going to happen here. They have also lost three players in this match to injury and suspension.
90+1mins: But yes, Nigeria are still in the World Cup even if they lose here, albeit only by a couple of fingernails. Another free kick 45 yards out on the right wing. Uche swings it in but it's a poor ball again and easily headed clear. Alasdair Simpson sighs: "Sucks to be Nigerian right now Barney. Greece were so awful against SK I thought this one was in the bag. Balls. P.s. mad props to Enyeama who has played heroically this World Cup."
90+3mins: Another good save by Enyeama as Tziolis has a shot from 25 yards a low fizzer that the keeper palms for a corner. Greece are keeping the ball, but wait, Samaras beats two men and shoots from actually on the bye-line into the side-netting. Very ambitious, that.
90+4 mins: FULL TIME And there we are. A great moment for Greece as they win 2-1, albeit aided by a moment of fecklessness from their opponents. Nigeria were winning this game until the sending off. Two slightly fortunate goals after that, both helped by deflections and/or bad goalkeeping, but they deserved to win on the balance of play. This group will go down to the wire now. That's all from me. Thanks for all your emails. Barney
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