It took a penalty kick three minutes from time for Olympiakos to bend Red Star Belgrade in Piraeus on Wednesday and win 1-0, clinching the third spot in its Champions League group that is sending the Piraeus club to the knockout stages of the Europa League.
Piraeus’ Reds were wasteful in offense and error-prone in defense, and were lucky not to trail at half-time as the visitors missed a penalty kick of their own.
Olympiakos dominated play in the first half-hour of the match with some minor chances created and wasted by the hosts, who also showed their anxiety under the pressure of their fans.
The Serbs came mighty close to opening the score late in the first half when they earned a penalty on the 41st, but Tomane sent the ball to the crossbar to the relief of his compatriot, Olympiakos’ Portuguese keeper Jose Sa.
Youssef El-Arabi missed the best chance the Greeks created on the hour mark when his effort also met the woodwork.
Then an entire 45 minutes after the Red Star’s penalty, the Serbs conceded a spot kick themselves through a handball, and El-Arabi made no mistake to give the Piraeus team the coveted victory on the 87th.
In the remainder of the match Olympiakos came closer to a second goal than the Serbs did to an equalizer, sealing qualification to the Round of 32 of UEFA’s second-tier tournament.
Th Greeks have finished on four points from six games and will find out their opponent in the Europa League in Monday’s draw.