ATHENS (Reuters) – Faroe Islands recorded a rare and arguably deserved win to stun Greece 1-0 as the hosts’ dreadful start to Euro 2016 qualifying continued on Friday and left them bottom of Group F.
Greece, European champions in 2004, again looked barely recognisable to the team that reached the last 16 of the 2014 World Cup as they struggled to create chances and were embarrassingly beaten by Joan Edmundsson’s opportunist strike just after the hour mark.
The result will reignite media speculation over the future of Italian coach Claudio Ranieri, who has come under intense pressure following Greece’s poor form after taking over from Fernando Santos in July.
“I believe the coach is always responsible for the results so naturally I take responsibility for this bad result tonight,” Ranieri told reporters.
“But I don’t think now is the time to make any rash decisions; important decisions should not be made in the heat of the moment. I plan to stay in charge and lead this team into the next games.”
The Greeks, on one point from four matches, had scored 10 and conceded one in their previous two matches against minnows the Faroes, who now sit fifth on three.
Despite Ranieri dropping strikers Kostas Mitroglou and Giorgos Samaras from his squad and bringing veteran Fanis Gekas into his starting line-up up front, Greece struggled going forward and could have easily been behind after a turgid opening half.
The visitors had three great chances to open the scoring, Brandur Olsen hitting the post with a 17th-minute free kick, Frodi Benjaminsen having a header saved brilliantly by Greek keeper Orestis Karnezis, who also rushed out of his goal to deny Edmundsson in unorthodox fashion with his face.
Greece were finally punished when Olsen’s mis-hit shot was directed past Karnezis by Edmundsson to stun the home crowd.
The hosts finally started to create opportunities late on and Panagiotis Kone was guilty of an awful miss when he prodded over from six metres, while the same player hit the crossbar in the closing minutes.
The Faroes players celebrated with glee at full time in scenes reminiscent of their previous most famous victory, another 1-0 win over Austria in 1990.