FORTALEZA- Georgios Samaras's dramatic injury-time penalty took Greece into the World Cup last 16 for the first time Tuesday as they grabbed a 2-1 win which sent Ivory Coast crashing out.
Samaras, brought down by Giovanni Sio in the 91st minute, bravely stepped up to convert past a flailing Boubacar Barry before being mobbed by his team-mates.
It proved the last act of a thrilling Group C finale which Greece had led following Andreas Samaris's strike near half-time, before Wilfried Bony equalised.
The Swansea City striker's goal looked enough to take Ivory Coast through but Samaras's penalty lifted Greece from bottom place to second, thanks also to Colombia's 4-1 win over Japan.
Samaras's goal brought a cruel end to the tournament for Ivory Coast's Yaya and Kolo Toure, who were playing despite the death of their brother from cancer last week.
The result also convinced Ivory Coast coach Sabri Lamouchi that his adventure with the 'Elephants' was at an end.
"My contract comes to an end at this World Cup and there will be no epilogue and you can understand well as to why," said the 42-year-old Frenchman.
"It is logical as we did not do well at last year's Africa Cup of Nations or at the World Cup finals."
Veteran striker Didier Drogba took over captaincy duties from Yaya Toure as he made his first start of the World Cup.
And they combined for the Ivory Coast's first dangerous moment but the Manchester City man's pass into the box was too heavy for the 36-year-old Galatasary striker's ageing legs to run on to.
Greece were forced into early changes when goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis came off with a back problem and midfielder Samaris replaced Panagiotis Kone, who went down holding his hamstring.
Ivory Coast were having trouble breaking down the compact Greeks and the Euro 2004 champions fired a warning when they quickly broke forward and Jose Holebas rattled the crossbar.
Georgios Karagounis, making his 139th apperance for the Greeks, then profited from indifferent defending when he blasted a low free-kick past the Ivory Coast wall but straight at Copa.
Greece's opener, three minutes before half-time, stemmed from a mix-up when Samaras pounced on a loose pass by Cheick Tiote and fed Samaris who steadied himself and finished coolly.
Samaris was then on hand at the other end to deny Yaya Toure after he evaded two challenges and galloped into the Greek box, only to see his shot blocked by the midfielder.