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Greek players celebrate scoring against Nigeria on Thursday. ((Martin Rose/Getty Images))

Greece recorded a historic World Cup win by beating 10-man Nigeria 2-1 Thursday in Group B action from Bloemfontein, South Africa.

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The main storyline

Greece could not have picked a better time to earn its first-ever World Cup win.

Prior to this encounter, the Greeks were winless in four World Cup games. Their only previous tournament appearance came in 1994. Entering this game, Greece was still seeking the team's first-ever World Cup goal.

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The goal drought finally ended in the 44th minute when Dimitrios Salpingidis's shot deflected off the heel of a Nigerian defender and found its way into the back of the net.

And when Vasileios Torosidis scored midway through the second half, the Greeks celebrated uncontrollably, confident that they were on their way to earning their first World Cup victory.

But had Nigerian midfielder Sani Kaita not been sent off in the first half for a needless foul, it's doubtful the Greeks would have been able to assert themselves with such authority against the high-flying Super Eagles.

The winning goal

With the game sitting on a knife-edge and the pressure mounting on Nigeria, goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama couldn't handle a Greek shot inside the box, and Torosidis pounced on the rebound and easily slotted the ball home.

Turning point of the game

Nigeria dominated proceedings right from the opening kickoff and took the early lead, but they lost the momentum in the 33rd minute when their side was reduced to 10 men. Kaita pushed and kicked Torosidis after the ball was out of play, and received a red card for his trouble.

That changed the tone of the game, as Greece made use of its numerical advantage and scored right before halftime and took the lead in the 71st minute courtesy of Torosidis.

What this result means

Thursday's result in Bloemfontein means Argentina sits alone in first place in Group B with six points. South Korea and Greece are tied for second (three points), while winless Nigeria picks up the rear.

South Korea meets Nigeria in its last game of the group stage, while Greece faces Argentina.

Argentina can clinch a second-round berth with a draw against Greece. South Korea or Greece would qualify for the round of 16 if one team wins and the other fails to earn three points.

Nigeria needs to beat South Korea and hope Argentina beats Greece in order to keep its faint World Cup hopes alive.

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Man of the match

Enyeama made a handful of spectacular stops for Nigeria, and kept his team in the game for as long as he could after the Super Eagles were reduced to 10 men. It's a shame he was not rewarded for his heroic efforts with a better result.

Goal of the match

All the goals were the product of good fortune, with none of them really standing out in terms of quality or beauty.

Save of the match

Both goalkeepers came up big in the 59th minute during an amazing sequence. Enyeama made a strong save on Greek forward Theofanis Gekas's low show inside the box and in the ensuing counterattack, Yakubu Ayegbeni was sent on a breakaway for Nigeria, only to be denied by Greek shot stopper Alexandros Tzorvas.

The Nigerian perspective

"I think the sending off played a big part in the game. We were controlling the game before the sending off." — Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo

The Greek perspective

"Of course it would have been a shame to return to Greece without a win and without a point so I'm very happy with this result. We did concede a goal, but we were able to stand up against it and we were able to get the game under control." — coach Otto Rehhagel

Next up

Nigeria takes on South Korea in Durban on June 22 (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET), while Greece meets Argentina on the same day in Polokwane (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 2 p.m. ET).