Olympiacos topple West Ham, PAOK cause upset and AEK lose in Europa League
Liverpool whips Toulouse 5-1 in the Europa League
The Piraeus Giants are finally up and running in Europe after downing Premier League side West Ham, the result putting them back in contention for qualification to the knockout rounds.
Olympiacos defeated the Hammers 2-1 at “Georgios Karaiskakis” Stadium on Friday morning (AEDT) in the UEFA Europa League’s third matchday, bringing them to four points (two behind their opponents and SC Freiburg).
The “red-whites” took the lead through a phenomenal solo goal from captain Kostas Fortounis, the playmaker dribbling with the ball before smacking it sweetly into the bottom left from range (33′).
The hosts then gained a second in the last minute of the opening half after right back Rodinei’s left footed ball into the box was unintentionally deflected into the net by defender Angelo Ogbonna (45+1′).
West Ham would get one back late into the match through a perfectly hit volley from distance by midfielder Lucas Paqueta into the bottom left, though Olympiacos was able to hang on for one of their most important wins so far this season.
A red card to goalkeeper Cican Stankovic played a major role as AEK lost 3-1 in their away fixture with Olympique de Marseille.
The French club went ahead in the 27th minute, thanks to a tap-in finish from striker Vitor Carvalho, though Enosi equalised through midfielder Orbelin Pineda (53′).
The Greek champions’ night took a turn for the worse shortly after that as Stankovic took out Carvalho following an error, receiving a red card from VAR as well as a penalty which winger Amine Harit buried into the right side of the net (60′).
Marseille earned another spot-kick just nine minutes later, with midfielder Jordan Veretout stepping up and depositing the ball into the exact same area as his teammate (69′).
Panathinaikos fought valiantly in their home match with Stade Rennais but were left to rue poor starts in each half as they fell 1-2.
The visitors pulled ahead just seven minutes in after winger Amine Gouiri volleyed in a cross with composure into the net.
The Greens controlled proceedings without penetrating Rennes’ defence and they would strike again early into the second period, this time through an excellent flick by striker Arnaud Kalimuendo from a free kick delivery behind his body and into the bottom left (49′).
Aris Limassol suffered a narrow 0-1 home loss to Real Betis, paying the price for hitting the post by conceding in the immediate attack afterwards which saw forward Ayoze Perez bag the winning goal (75′).
PAOK kept their perfect European record intact with an amazing 2-3 comeback win over Aberdeen in Scotland.
The Reds took a two-nil lead in the Europa Conference League encounter, first through a tidy finish from striker Bojan Miovski (50′) and then through a rapid counter-attack polished off by winger Dante Polvara (58′).
The Thessaloniki giants kept fighting and eventually got their first through substitute forward Kiril Despodov, who scored with his first touch of the ball in the same minute he came on (73′).
PAOK soon made it 2-2 via captain Vieirinha, whose strike took a deflection off an Aberdeen defender and went into the bottom right (84′), before winning a penalty in the last minute following a VAR inspection.
Midfielder Stefan Schwab was given the responsibility and he coolly placed it into the bottom left to steal the points at the death for his side (90+6′).
The victory puts PAOK on nine points from their three games to all but assure them of a place in the knockout rounds.
The two Double-headed eagles of Hellenic football are in store for a major clash and look well-placed for a tight contest as they each look to create some separation from the other.
AEK hosts their northern rivals at “Agia Sophia” Stadium on Tuesday morning (AEDT) in the Greek Super League’s ninth round blockbuster for what stands as another tough battle between two of the competition’s strongest teams.
The two sides currently stand with an identical record (five wins, two draws, one loss), making this an excellent opportunity for both outfits to gain an advantage over the other.
PAOK will no doubt be more comfortable with a tie in this scenario, given they are the away team, though they will also be motivated by the midweek European result ( )to secure maximum points.
Olympiacos makes the trip to face a stubborn OFI side that has lost just once this campaign, with the “red-whites” looking to build on their impressive European victory over West Ham.
Panathinaikos takes on Panserraikos at “Leoforos” ground on Monday morning with the hopes of bagging a comfortable win as they strive to mentally get past the drama from last week’s derby.
Aris is aiming to earn consecutive victories for the first time this season in their home match with the struggling Giannina side that is currently on an eight-game winless streak.
Lamia is attempting to keep their own impressive form going in their away outing with Asteras Tripolis, with the Fthiotida side seeking a third straight success against the so far inconsistent Arcadians.
Both Atromitos and Volos are in desperate search of their maiden victories in the round’s first matches on Sunday morning, with the two clubs hoping to down their similarly poor-performing opponents, who themselves have only won once this season.
The Peristeriotes collide with a Panetolikos outfit riding high off a triumph last weekend, making the proposition slightly more challenging for the hosts.
By contrast, Volos is in store for a visit from the battlers, Kifisia, who have managed to draw four times in their last five games. The first division newcomers have shown true grit and determination despite not being the most complete team of the league, ensuring that the Magnesia side will still have to bring their all if they wish to defeat them.
Liverpool have seized control of Europa League Group E as they breezed to a 5-1 win over Toulouse at Anfield to go five points clear after three games.
Diogo Jota continued his love affair with Europe’s second competition, scoring his eighth goal in seven appearances.
Although Thijs Dallinga levelled for the visitors, Wataru Endo got off the mark in Liverpool colours and Darwin Nunez added another to put Juergen Klopp’s men in charge before half-time.
Nunez then hit the post of an open goal just after the hour, but Ryan Gravenberch tucked in the rebound and substitute Mohamed Salah added a fifth in stoppage time to leave Liverpool – three points off the top of the Premier League – looking strong on all fronts as they face an intense run of fixtures.
Klopp had promised to make “not too many” changes to his side following Saturday’s 2-0 win over Everton in the Merseyside derby, but there were only three survivors in the starting line-up – Jota, Gravenberch and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Klopp had also said he wanted to ensure Toulouse, who lost 4-0 on their only previous visit to Anfield in 2007, did not enjoy their evening and all three of those players had a big say in making sure they did not.