The 2014 World Cup has been a tournament of incomprehensible madness and the fact that Greece beat the Ivory Coast with its first two goals of the tournament to set up its first ever World Cup round of 16 match against Costa Rica, of all teams, encapsulates that perfectly.
Coming into the final round of the group stage, Greece had scored zero goals, managing only a 3-0 loss to Colombia and a 0-0 draw with Japan. But that one point kept the team alive and needing a win against the Ivory Coast to advance.
Georgios Samaras converted to win 2-1 to reach the knockout stage for the first time ever. With only two goals scored in the last hour of play.Greece scored its first goal of the 2014 World Cup in the 42nd minute of that third match, but the Ivory Coast equalized in the 74th. The Ivory Coast just needed to hold on for a draw to advance, but it conceded a penalty in added time, which Greece striker
Greece did not qualify for the World Cup until 1994, where it lost all three group stage matches. In 2004, it pulled off one of the greatest miracles in the history of team sports by winning the European Championship without conceding a single goal and beating Portugal in the final. It then won its first World Cup match in 2010, but failed to make it out of the group. The team has now won a second and reached a knockout match against Costa Rica, who went undefeated in a group of past champions (Italy, Uruguay and England).
Australia scored more goals than Greece and finished last in its group with three losses.
Greece's recent history in major tournaments consists of things people of the future will probably think are uncorrected Wikipedia pranks. And yet, it's a brand of surreal fortune that Greece seems to be secretly mass producing in a basement somewhere.
Whoever wins between Greece and Costa Rica will reach the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time and face the winner of the Netherlands-Mexico match. The way this World Cup is going, that quarterfinal matchup will only present another opportunity for a fresh batch of delightful weirdness.
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