Greece held on for a scoreless draw against Japan in Natal on Thursday, ensuring Colombia will play in the round of 16 in Brazil.
Despite playing the entire second half with one less player, after skipper Kostas Katsouranis was expelled seven minutes before half-time, Greece denied the misfiring Japanese at the Arena das Dunas as both teams picked up their first points of the FIFA World Cup.
Katsouranis went into the book for the first time in the 27th minute when he slid into the back of Yuya Osako and his trip to halt Japan captain Makoto Hasebe’s break 11 minutes later was the end of his match.
The draw saw Colombia, who had defeated Ivory Coast 2-1 earlier on Thursday, secure a berth in the knockout stages at their first World Cup since 1998, as they lead Group C with six points with one game to play.
The most intriguing selection for Greece was not a change with coach Fernando Santos sticking with Giannis Maniatis despite the Olympiacos defensive midfielder having threatened to leave Brazil on Wednesday after a training ground argument.
Maniatis retained his spot in defensive midfield, while Kostas Mitroglou and Ioannis Fetfatzidis replaced Theofanis Gekas and Dimitris Salpigidis respectively.
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