Friday, July 4, 2014

4 July 2004 - Third Time's The Charm

On 4 July 2004, Greece won its first (and to date, only) major tournament, defeating Portugal 1-0 in the UEFA Euro 2004 Final before a crowd of 62,685 at the Estádio da Luz in Lisbon.

Going into the tournament, the Greeks were significant underdogs, with most oddsmakers placing them somewhere between 80-1 and 150-1 to win.

They started off in good form, however, beating hosts Portugal 2-1 in the tournament's opening match. Portugal won their next two matches to top the group, while Greece finished in the group's second position after drawing 1-1 with Spain and losing to Russia, 2-1.

In the knockout stages, Greece regained its winning form, first upsetting Euro 2000 winners France by the score of 1-0, then beating the Czech Republic 1-0 with a goal in the dying seconds of the first extra time period. Portugal, meanwhile, advanced to the Final with a win over England on penalties, 2-2 (6-5), and a 2-0 defeat of the Netherlands.

In the Final, Portugal had the majority of possession and had four times as many shots as the Greeks, but were unable to penetrate the defense. Midfielder Angelos Charisteas scored the only goal of the match in the 57th minute, with a header against the run of play, sealing Greece's first major honors.

At the time, the Greeks had qualified for only two other major tournaments, Euro 1980 and the 1994 World Cup, but failed to advance out of the group stage in either tournament. Since then, however, they qualified for the 2014 World Cup, where they reached the Round of 16. 

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