Celebrations start for Greece

  • Last Updated: June 25 2014, 15:13 BST

Greece are in celebratory mood after reaching the round of 16 of the World Cup for the first time in their nation's history.

Georgios Samaras: Hailed a fine team performance
Georgios Samaras: Hailed a fine team performance

A penalty from Georgios Samaras three minutes into stoppage time, saw Greece edge Ivory Coast 2-1 on Tuesday in Fortaleza and set up a meeting with Costa Rica next.

"This means so much to me, to us," Samaras said to Greek newspaper Ekathimerini. "We really hope we can make the people happy back home.

"We are a team. A team - that's it."

Greece had failed to score in their previous two Group C matches and looked to be on their way out after Ivory Coast's Wilfried Bony had cancelled out Andreas Samaris' first-half strike in the 74th minute.

However, the Euro 2004 champions, who were denied by the woodwork three times, fought until the end and were rewarded when Samaras converted a last-gasp spot-kick after being brought down by substitute Giovanni Sio in the box.

"We came here to advance from the group stage," Greece captain Giorgos Karagounis said. "We've never done it before, and we did in a great way.

"The goal should have come earlier so God helped us in the end and we all thank him.

"We prevailed against the odds. We had passion and we had fight."

Greece take on Group D's surprise package Costa Rica in Recife on Sunday.

The Costa Ricans finished top of their pool after beating Uruguay and Italy.

"Costa Rica progressed as top of a group that was considered the group of death," Greece coach Fernando Santos said. "They were considered one of the weakest sides and yet they beat Italy and Uruguay.

"If a team wins their group it means they are very strong."

Greece will not have Panagiotis Kone available on Sunday, with the midfielder having sustained a muscular injury during Tuesday's game.

However, first-choice goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis, who was replaced after 24 minutes through injury, is expected to recover.

Tuesday's match was Sabri Lamouchi's last at the helm of the Ivory Coast after two years in charge.

The French coach had hoped for a better outcome for Les Elephants in Brazil.

The African side had started the tournament with a 2-1 win over Japan and despite their 2-1 defeat to Colombia, they still had high hopes of progressing to the second round.

However, Tuesday's reverse saw the Ivory Coast finish third in the pool, just one point behind Greece, who join Group C winners Colombia in the next round.

"The outcome is a cruel one but the Greeks did not steal this victory," Lamouchi said. "I am very disappointed and sad, and also for the players and the Ivorian people.

"I have put a lot of time and effort into the past two years but unfortunately my story with the Ivory Coast ends here.

"My contract comes to an end at this World Cup and there will be no epilogue and you can understand well as to why.

"It is logical as we did not do well at last year's African Nations Cup or at the World Cup finals.

"However, my career carries on and there will be other defeats, though I would have liked this adventure to finish in a different fashion."