Greece had enough quality to beat a very determined French team 15-10 in today’s dead-rubber at the World League Euro Finals in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.
Greece were very much helped by their centre-forwards today, as Eleni Xenaki (5) and Maria Myriokefalitaki (2) were too much for the French defence to handle. The two pit players were probably the difference between the two sides today, in what was a fairly evenly matched game.
Greece took a 6-2 lead after the first period, with Greece just finding a way to score as both sides cancelled each other out for much of the first half. At one point in the last, France came within 2 goals of Greece (11-9) with scores from Vernoux and Guillet. But Greece held firm, and showed maybe a little bit more conviction in the last to stamp their authority on the game and get the result.
All credit to France, who played really well today. Their centre-forward, Aurelie Battu, was also in fine form – as were Ema Vernoux (4) and Louise Guillet (4), both of whom were really dangerous with their movement and shooting.
Greece had the quality to find gaps in the French defence and exploit them. As mentioned, Xenaki was outstanding on 2m, while both of the Greek keepers (Stamatopoulou and Karytsa) had decent games.
There will no doubt that the French Head Coach, Emilien Bugeaud, will be the happier of the two coaches. While there is a five goal gap in the scoreline, the game was closer than this suggests. This experience at the World League Euro Finals tournament will set this group of talented French players in really good stead for their upcoming European Championship campaign in Split – where they share a group with Serbia, Slovakia, Israel, Spain and Italy.
France 10-15 Greece (2-5, 0-1, 5-5, 3-4)
France: C. Vidal, L. Fanara, G. Fitaire, L. Andres, L. Guillet 4, V. Kretzmann, J. Dhalluin 1, A. Battu 1, E. Vernoux 4, V. Heurtaux, Y. Deschampt, A. Daule, P. Martineau-Pere
Greece: I. Stamatopoulou, E. Plevritou, I. Chydirioti 2, N. Eleftheriadou, M. Plevritou 1, E. Xenaki 5, E. Ninou 1, K. Ioannou 1, E. Elliniadi, V. Plevritou 2, C. Siouti 1, M. Myriokefalitaki 2, E. Karytsa
Greece took the early initiative as Eleni Xenaki opened the scoring with two goals – both were tidy finishes from the pit.
Before then, France had shown promise, with Aurelie Battu setting well at centre for the French, and Lara Andres having her shot from the wing saved well by Ioanna Stamatopoulou.
For Greece’s advantage on the scoreboard, Alexia Kammenou’s side were really racking up the exclusions. And Juliette Dhalluin made the Greeks pay with a powerful and accurate strike into the top-right of Ioanna Stamatopoulou’s goal.
Ema Vernoux nearly equalised on the right wing with some excellent off the ball movement, but the Greece and Olympiacos keeper was on hand to make a decent save to her right.
However, Greece made the French pay dearly with two mistakes. Chloe Vidal was firstly too slow to react to a low bounce shot down to her left by Ioanna Chydirioti, before Vasiliki Plevritou announced herself in the match with a pinpoint shot on the left-point.
While France pulled one back thanks to some good interplay between Valentine Heurtaux and Louise Guillet – with Guillet finishing well on the left-wing, Maria Myriokefalitaki gave her country a 5-2 lead at the break with a typically classy goal in the pit from the 21 year old.
France continued to carry a threat in the 2nd period, with Olympic Nice’s Aurelie Battu really causing problems for the Greeks in defence.
The Greeks had chances of their own into the quarter. Eirini Ninou and Vasiliki Plevritou both struck the post, while Chloe Vidal was equal to a shot from Eleni Xenaki, while her defender, Audrey Daule, denied Vasiliki Plevritou with a brave block.
For the majority of the period, there was a lot to be admired about the defensive performances from both sides, but particularly France – with either side forcing the turnover of numerous occasions.
However, perhaps predictably, it was at centre-forward that Greece were going to get some joy. And with a quarter of a minute to go, Eleni Xenaki secured a hat-trick in the bucket. The ball dropped in kindly, and the experienced Olympiacos kicked out well before slotting past Vidal in the French goal. At the end of the half, the score was 6-2 to the blue caps.
While it took Greece practically the whole quarter to find the target in the second, they scored with their first attack in the third. Eirini Ninou found herself goalside just outside the right hand post on 3m, and dispatched coolly past Vidal for 7-2.
France’s centre finally got her deserved reward and a goal to celebrate. She drew the major foul from Nikoleta Eleftheriadou, before firing home at close range from Audrey Daule’s quick pass. However, Greece’s centre-forward was in equally shimmering form under the beautiful sun in Tenerife, and found herself free at centre after Valentine Heurtaux’s ejection.
The game was becoming a more open contest and that suited the French. Louise Guillet scored from a 5m penalty past the newly introduced Greek keeper, Evangelia Karytsa, to put the score at 8-4.
Greece were then awarded a goal by VAR from a Eleni Elliniadi goal that Pasiphae Martineau-Pere could not quite keep out.
There was then a procession of goals for both teams. Louise Guillet grabbed her hat-trick with a bouncing shot past Karytsa, while Eleni Xenaki netted her quad with a decent man-up play from Yaelle Deschampt’s exclusion.
With now just two goals between the sides, Greece turned up the heat. Alexia Kammenou called a timeout as Ioanna Chydirioti took full advantage of a seemingly absent block, before a good bit of work over on the left drew the defence out of position for Vasiliki Plevritou to make it 11-6.
With just under a minute left in Q3, France were determined to push the Blue and Whites all the way. And when Juliette Dhalluin turned excellently on the right, Nikoleta Eleftheriadou pulled her back, and Ema Vernoux smashed home the subsequent penalty throw to put the score at 11-7.
Into the last quarter for both of the teams in this year’s World League, France were going out with a bang and nabbed two early scores; firstly via their very talented youngster, Ema Vernoux. The teenager faked three times before sending a tasty lob to the back post. Then, a driven shot by Louise Guillet just about beat Evangelia Karytsa at her left-post to pull France within 2 goals (11-9).
Audrey Daule had a guilt-edge chance just second later with a miss from 2m. And the French were punished for that miss, as the unstoppable Eleni Xenaki converted for the fifth time in the match.
Midway through the last, you sense one more score for the Greeks would do the trick as far as the result would be concerned. And Tina Siouti trapped the ball well from Karolina Ioannou’s looped pass, and found the back of the net on the right with a powerful but precise execution.
Karolina Ioannou, of Ethnikos, then grabbed a goal of her own. On a double exclusion for the French, Ioannou kicked out from the post, and could hardly miss from less than 2m away.
France kept plucking away, and Evangelia Karytsa had to be aware when Aurelia Battu went for goal from distance. However, when Siouti was dismissed with less than a minute to go, Ema Vernoux powered home a 10th goal for Les Blues with a silky finish on the left-wing.
However, the Greeks would have the last laugh as Alexia Kammenou called her timeout, and the Greek captain, Margarita Plevritou, scored the Greek’s final goal of the game