SPORTS

Olympiakos crumbles in second half to lose 3-1 at Red Star Belgrade

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Soccer

Ten-man Olympiakos suffered its first loss after 20 games in all competitions as it surrendered its first-half lead at Red Star Belgrade to lose 3-1 for the group stage of the Champions League on Tuesday.

The sole Greek representative in the competition conceded three goals in the last half-hour of the game and will have to work hard even to land the third spot in the group in the end.

The first half resembled a friendly game with little action on either end, and with the Greek team enjoying enough possession in midfield to keep the upper hand in the encounter.

Olympiakos also found a goal before half-time, as on the 37th minute Ruben Semedo tried what appeared like a cross that Red Star keeper Milan Borjan fumbled in, to the delight of the 3,000 Olympiakos fans at the stands.

Red Star practically had its first real chance upon the completion of the first 45 minutes, but Olympiakos goallie Jose Sa had no problems with it. It was the second half that would constitute a major problem.

Three minutes before the hour mark Yassine Benzia was sent off for his (rather harsh) second bookable offense leaving the Greek team with 10 players. That was the game's turning point.

It took the hosts just five minutes to make their numerical advantage count, as Milos Vulic tried a shot that Sa did nothing about on the 62nd.

For over 20 minutes the Serbs put more pressure but without creating so many chances to add to their tally. Instead it was Yassine Meriah who missed a glorious opportunity on the 86th to put the Piraeus team in front, but in the next minute Nemanja Milunovic scored the second goal for the Serbs. Richmond Boakye extended the hosts’ lead on the 90th with a header.

What the match lacked in soccer quality it made up for with the atmosphere at the stands. The hardcore fans of Red Star (Delije) and Olympiakos (Gate 7) have a brother-like relationship and the two sets of fans at the Belgrade stadium sang each other’s chants.

Up next OIympiakos is hosting Bayern Munich in Piraeus in three weeks’ time, with the Reds still on one point from two games.

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