Faeroe Islands stun Greece for a second time in Euro qualifiers
The Faeroe Islands claimed a second surprise victory over 2004 European champion Greece in qualifying for the 2016 tournament on Saturday as Group F pacesetters Romania and Northern Ireland drew 0-0.
Greece, the world’s 25th-best team according to FIFA, remained last in the group after being beaten 2-1 by the 102nd-ranked Faeroe Islands.
Greece’s soccer slump comes as the country’s government comes under intense pressure from creditors amid bankruptcy fears.
The Faeroes - with a population of around 50,000 compared with Greece’s 11 million - have never even qualified for a major tournament.
Hallur Hansson and Brandur Olsen, who play for clubs in Denmark, scored for the Faeroes, and Greece’s comeback was limited to Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ late header.
Greece’s 1-0 loss at home to the Faeroes in November led to coach Claudio Ranieri being replaced by Sergio Markarian.
The Faeroes climbed above Finland into fourth place in the six-team group, five points behind Hungary.
Zoltan Stieber gave Hungary a 1-0 victory over Finland to close the gap on second-place Northern Ireland to two points.
The Northern Irish, who have featured at three World Cups, are seeking their first qualification for the Euros and remain a point behind leader Romania.
“There’s definitely a sense of disappointment,” Northern Ireland captain Steven Davis said in Belfast. “It’s a bit of a missed opportunity.”
The top two teams are guaranteed a place at the European Championship in France, and most third-place teams will have to go through a playoff.