Kaspars Gork?s was the skipper of his country this evening as Greece were eventually able to overcome a spirited Latvia side.
Gork?s lined up in the centre of defence alongside Deniss Ivanovs and was charged with keeping out a potent force in Theofanis Gekas and Georgios Samaras.
Greece had an early lead through Gekas before Māris Verpakovskis sprung a surprise to hit a brace and take the visitors into the break with a shock lead.
The hosts turned the screw after the break with Gekas rolling home a dubious penalty to equalise. Referee Tom Henning Øvrebø of Chelsea fame harshly adjudged Oskars Klava had brought down Samaras.
This helped the hosts to reassert from pressure and before long they were back in front with a glancing header from Gekas turning the game back in favour of the hosts.
Former Manchester City front-man Samaras extended the Greek’s lead with a close range effort before Gekas completed the rout moments before the end, capitalising on some hesitant goalkeeping from Andrejs Vanins to roll home from close range.
That cements Greece’s place in the playoffs while Switzerland progress to the World Cup as group winners.
It was a spirited display by Latvia, notably from Gork?s but they came up short against the killer instinct of the Greek forwards and a piece of fortune from the whistle of Mr Øvrebø.
Meanwhile Adel Taarabt managed to net his second goal in two games for Morocco despite their defeat against Gabon.
Morocco sit bottom of their qualification group and were three down away from home before Taarabt struck late on to reduce the deficit.
Martin Rowlands took to the field in the 70th minute for the Republic of Ireland with the scores deadlocked at 1-1 against World Champions Italy.
Eire supporters were appreciative of Rowlands combative style, coming from the bench to replace goalscorer Glenn Whelan.
The Stoke City man handed Ireland the lead in the eight with a scintillating strike from distance, but it was pegged back by a header from Mauro Camoranesi before half time.
Sean St Ledger thought he’d won the game with a well taken header from an excellent set-piece from Stephen Hunt. Defensive naivety cost Eire dear as Vicenzo Iaquinta rolled square for Alberto Gillardino to roll home in the dying stages.
Finally Ákos Buzsáky started on the bench for Hungary in their crucial playoff-deciding clash away at Portugal.
Cristiano Ronaldo was forced to withdraw through injury a mere 20 minutes into the game with former colleague at Manchester United, Nani taking his place.
The hosts were already a goal to the good courtesy of winger Simão and it was a lead they would take into the break.
Buzsáky and Ipswich striker Tamás Priskin came from the bench in close succession in the second period, but Liedson’s header all-but killed the game off, despite Gabor Babos’ attempts to scramble it back from the line
Simão finished the game off with little over ten minutes remaining as he slammed home a teasing cross from close range.
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