Greece and Ukraine's 2010 World Cup qualifying play-off tie remains in the balance after the two teams shared a goalless draw in Athens.
Theofanis Gekas, the overall top scorer in qualifying with 10 goals, wasted
Greece's best chance while Ruslan Rotan was guilty of poor finishing for the
visitors on a night when both sides cancelled each other out at the Olympic
Sotiris Kyrgiakos almost won the game for Otto Rehhagel's Greece in the dying
seconds but the Liverpool defender headed wide.
Both teams began brightly but it was the visitors who threatened first and
registered the first shot on target when Alexandros Tzorvas pulled off a
comfortable save from Andriy Shevchenko's 25-yard free-kick.
Giorgos Karagounis responded for the hosts with a shot from distance which was
comfortably held by Andriy Piatov in the Ukraine goal.
Former Chelsea and AC Milan forward Shevchenko then tried his luck again from
another free-kick in the 13th minute but his tame effort drifted wide.
Greece had the ball in the net after 16 minutes when Gekas turned in Dimitris
Salpigidis cross but the assistant referee had already raised his flag for
Rotan wasted a golden opportunity three minutes later after a defensive mix-up
from the home side when he dragged his shot wide of the left post from the edge
of the box.
The visitors continued to look the more dangerous, particularly on the counter
attack and Tvorvas was called upon in the 36th minute to make a smart save from
Oleg Gusiev's shot from an acute angle.
Greece threatened twice before half-time but striker Giorgos Samaras' control
let him down when Salpigidis picked him out with a low centre before Gekas
headed straight at Piatov from Karagounis' free-kick.
Samaras, who was a peripheral figure in the first half, drew a save from Piatov
with a speculative shot from distance as Greece began strongly after the break.
But again the visitors threatened and Karagounis came to Greece's rescue with a
last-ditch tackle to deny Artem Milevskyy in the 55th minute.
Tzorvas was called into action again in the 68th minute to push away a rasping
Taras Mykhalyk's drive.
Rehhagel then handed 21-year-old striker Kostas Mitroglou his international
debut as a replacement for Salpigidis with 19 minutes left as he looked to add
attacking impetus to his team.
But the Olympiakos forward failed to make a significant impression and it was
Samaras who next went close with a powerful shot which flew just inches over the
Ukraine continued to look dangerous going forward on the break but it was the
home side who almost snatched a vital win through Kyrgiakos, but the defender
headed Kostas Katsouranis' right-wing cross wide of the left post with only