Greece record historic World Cup win
Greece came back from a goal down to beat Nigeria 2-1 in the World Cup on Thursday after the African team had to play with 10 men for almost two thirds of the Group B game.
Otto Rehhagel's men beat ten-man Nigerians to record their first ever victory at the finals.
It also kept their World Cup dreams alive in a match that hinged on a first half red card for the African team.
The Euro 2004 champions - who had lost all three matches in the 1994 finals and then to South Korea in their opening group match here - knew that defeat would end their hopes in South Africa and fell behind early on.
Greece had also gone through all four of their previous World Cup games without scoring.
Image: Greece's players celebrate at the end of a 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match against Nigeria in Bloemfontein
Uche put Nigeria ahead
Kalu Uche put Nigeria ahead in the 16th minute with a direct free kick which everyone missed, including Greek keeper Alexandros Tzorvas.
The midfielder's swung in a 35 metre free-kick from near the left corner of the penalty area and a bemused Tzorvas could only see the ball creep past him.
It was Nigeria's first goal of the tournament.
And their Swedish coach, Lars Lagerback's plans finally seemed to fall into place.
Image: Nigeria's Kalu Uche celebrates after scoring a goal during a 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match against Greece at Free State stadium in Bloemfontein
Sani Kaita was sent off
However, the joy was shortlived.
The match turned in the 33rd minute when Nigeria's Sani Kaita was sent off for kicking out at Vassilis Torosidis in an off-the ball incident.
The Super Eagles' hopes took a major hit thereafter.
Kaita left the pitch in tears following the Colombian referee's (Oscar Ruiz) decision.
"I couldn't see what happened from my position, what I heard they said he kicked him with the underside of his shoe. I see the Greek player laying, holding his head, so I really don't know. It looks very strange," Nigeria coach Lagerback explained later.
Image: Nigeria's Sani Kaita (R) reacts after referee Oscar Ruiz of Colombia shows him a red card
Salpingidis netted Greece's first ever World Cup goal
The game turned immediately in Greece's favour.
As half-time approached Greece coach Rehhagel threw on forward Georgios Samaras for defensive midfielder Sokratis Papastathopoulos as the Greeks, renowned for their defensive-minded play, seized the initiative playing some uncharacteristic attacking football.
The pressure paid off when Dimitris Salpingidis netted Greece's first ever goal in a World Cup finals after his shot deflected into the net off Nigeria's Lukman Haruna to make it 1-1 at half-time.
Salpingidis thereby etched his name into Greek record books and celebrated jubilantly with the whole squad.
He had previously scored the winner in the World Cup playoff against Ukraine to take his country to South Africa.
Image: Dimitris Salpigidis celebrates after scoring Greece's first ever World Cup goal
Torosidis netted the winner
The second half started at frantic pace with both sides threatening and Nigeria taking off Peter Odemwingie for Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi.
With less than 10 minutes gone in the second period the Africa side were forced into another substution when Uwa Echiejile replaced the injured Taye Taiwo.
With their usual defensive approach firmly abandoned, Greece went close again through Samaras before Torosidis stabbed home a second after Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama had spilled a low Alexandros Tziolis shot.
As the second half wore on the game became stretched and in a dramatic spell Theofanis Gekas was denied by Enyeama before Nigeria raced upfield with Yakubu Ayegbeni forcing Tzorvas into a smart save and Obasi missing a clear follow-up chance.
Image: Greece's Vassilis Torosidis celebrates his goal during the 2010 World Cup Group B soccer match against Nigeria
We still have a chance to qualify: Lagerback
Despite the defeat the Super Eagles retain a mathematical chance of reaching the knockout stages.
"We started the game well, controlled the game, got the goal and then had a sending off. That caused us problems, especially in the first half," Nigeria coach Lars Lagerback said after the match.
Argentina lead the group with six points from two games after beating South Korea 4-1 earlier on Thursday. Greece and South Korea both have three points while Nigeria are still without a point after two games.
Nigeria could still qualify if they beat South Korea in their final group match and Argentina defeat Greece.
"The positive thing is that if Argentina win their game we still have a chance to qualify," Lagerback said.
Image: Greece's Giorgos Karagounis celebrates with his teammates after their win