Greece seal World Cup play-off spot

ATHENS - Greece secured a place in the World Cup qualifying playoffs by edging out 10-man Luxembourg 2-1 on Wednesday.

Two headed goals in three first-half minutes from Vasilis Torosidis and Theofanis Gekas, both from Giorgos Karagounis set-pieces, put the Greeks on their way in front of a sparse crowd of just under 14,000 at the Olympic Stadium.

Ben Payal was dismissed in the 58th minute after picking up a second booking to complete a miserable night for the visitors, who grabbed a consolation goal when Avraam Papadopoulos turned a cross past his own keeper in the last minute.

Switzerland drew 0-0 with Israel in Basel to seal top spot in Group Two with 21 points.

Greece, who finish with 20 points, will go on to face a two-legged play-off with matches on November 14 and 18 and a place in South Africa at stake.

Greece coach Otto Rehhagel was left to lament the two defeats to the Swiss that ultimately cost his side an automatic ticket for the finals.

"The home game especially was vital," he said. "We should not have lost that game. If you want to qualify automatically you have to win all of your home matches."