SPORTS

Fuchs ends Olympiakos's Champions League dream

By George Georgakopoulos

A speculative long-range effort by Christian Fuchs 13 minutes from time at the Veltins Arena of Gelsenkirchen deprived Olympiakos of Champions League soccer come spring as Schalke defeated the Piraeus team 1-0 on Wednesday to confine it to the Europa League.

Olympiakos did not play the game it had to in order to steal victory in Germany, but thought it could nick a point that would keep it in the running for a spot in the knockout stages of Europe's top club competition.

While holding the Germans in the first half, also thanks to the crossbar that denied Lewis Holtby after 10 minutes, the Greek side produced little in attack to make the hosts worry.

The midfield battle had one clear winner, as the Reds had Paulo Machado on a bad night and lone striker Costas Mitroglou isolated in attack.

In the second half Schalke increased the pressure on the Roy Carroll goal and just as the balance of the game appeared to change with the introduction of Rafik Djebbour instead of Mitroglou, with a couple of good chances for the visitors, they conceded the game’s only goal.

A Schalke counter-attack saw Fuchs pick the ball about 30 meters from goal and unleash a shot the bounced twice before beating Carroll, who appeared to misjudge the course of the ball.

Olympiakos has got one game left in the group, against Arsenal at home, but this will not change its fate: The Reds have mathematically ended up third and will be in the draw for the round of 32 of the Europa League next month. Still, that is not what the near-certain Greek champion had hoped for this season.

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