ATHENS, Nov 17 (Reuters) - A hat-trick by Greece striker
Fanis Gekas steered the European champions to a 5-0 win over
Malta in their Euro 2008 qualifier in Group C on Saturday.
Gekas struck first in the 33rd minute as Greece, who had
already qualified for the finals next year, struggled to shrug
off the party atmosphere at the Olympic Stadium.
Angelos Basinas and Ioannis Amanatidis gave Greece a
comfortable lead early in the second half and Gekas popped up
with two goals in the space of three minutes to complete his
Malta, who will finish bottom of group C with just one win
over Hungary, could have taken the lead in the 19th minute when
Andre Schembri got behind the Greece defence, slipped the ball
past goalkeeper Andonis Nikopolidis and then watched as it went
agonisingly past the upright.
Gekas broke the deadlock when he reacted first to drive home
the rebound after Malta goalkeeper Justin Haber had done well to
parry a sharp header from Stelios Giannakopoulos.
Haber then made an excellent double save to deny Gekas and
Basinas just before half-time.
Nine minutes into the second half, Basinas rifled in a shot
off the post and then with the Malta defence nowhere to be seen,
Amanatidis made it 3-0.
Gekas completed the celebrations for Greece with well-taken
goals in the 72nd and 74th minutes and there might have been
even more had substitute Nikos Liberopoulos not hit the bar with
one shot and then had a goal disallowed for offside.