Posted: Fri November 15, 2013 5:17PM; Updated: Fri November 15, 2013 5:22PM

Greece takes 3-1 World Cup qualifying playoff edge over Romania

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Greece's Kostas Mitroglou celebrates after his second, and his country's third, goal of the day as the Greeks lead Romania 3-1 heading into the second leg of their World Cup qualifying playoff.
Greece's Kostas Mitroglou celebrates after his second, and his country's third, goal of the day as the Greeks lead Romania 3-1 heading into the second leg of their World Cup qualifying playoff.
Thanassis Stavrakis/AP

PIRAEUS, Greece (AP) - Greece took a big step toward Brazil as in-form striker Kostas Mitroglou netted twice in a 3-1 win over Romania on Friday in the first leg of their World Cup playoffs, in a game that saw three goals scored in six first-half minutes.

Dimitris Salpingidis picked out Mitroglou who leapt to get his left foot to the ball in the 14th minute, beating goalkeeper Bogdan Lobont.

Gabriel Torje then set up the equalizer with a free kick in the 19th as Bogdan Stancu glided met the ball at the near post to head in the valuable away goal.

But seconds later, Salpingidis slid across the penalty area to score from a cross by Vassilis Torosidis.

The Romanians pressed in the first half, with Torje causing problems for the hosts on the right, but the Greeks recovered from a string of uninspiring performances in recent qualifiers to control the match at Karaiskaki Stadium.

The 25-year-old Mitroglou - currently the top scorer in the Greek league at Olympiakos - added his second in the 66th minute with another acrobatic effort to bury the ball provided by Georgios Samaras.

Romania ended the match with 10 men when substitute Costin Lazar was shown a second yellow card at the start of injury time.

Romania hosts Greece for the second playoff on Nov. 19.

Copyright 2014 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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