Karagounis in attack on English 'divers'

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The Panathinaikos midfielder Giorgios Karagounis has raised the temperature before tonight's Champions' League game with Arsenal by claiming English players are "divers".

The Greek side were accused of their own theatrical excesses by the Gunners' Thierry Henry in Athens three weeks ago, but Karagounis last night claimed that England players had "dived" in order to win free-kicks for David Beckham in the final World Cup qualifying game at Old Trafford on 6 October, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

"We have a great respect for Thierry Henry and Arsenal," said the 24-year-old playmaker. "However, we do not have their comments in our minds now. Our victory was a fair one and they were not justified in their comments about that game.

"In what they accused the Greek footballers of doing we saw happening here when the Greek national team played. The English players were diving so that Beckham could take his free-kicks.

"The English game is one of the more physical, not only compared to Greek football but the European game generally.

"It is much more physical and the English temperament is perhaps different. But we will not let this influence tomorrow's game just as it didn't influence us in the first game.

"We are not interested in what the opponents do, we are concerned only with our team affairs. It is not our purpose to make our opponents lose their temper – what we are here for us to play our football."