SPORTS

Olympiakos draw knocks team out of UEFA Cup

A late goal from Deportivo La Coruna’s Johan Capdevila in a Champions League game Wednesday night gave the Spanish club a 1-1 draw with Olympiakos Piraeus, and dashed Greek hopes for a UEFA Cup spot. Olympiakos finished last in Group G with six points, one behind France’s Lille. Third place in the group’s final standings would have given the Greek team the right to continue in the less prestigious UEFA Cup competition. But Lille’s 1-1 draw at home with Manchester United, combined with Olympiakos’s failure to win, gave the French side its place in the third round of the UEFA Cup competition. Both Deportivo and Manchester United had already advanced to the next phase of the Champions League. They finished with 10 points each, but the Spaniards took first place in the group with two wins over the English powerhouse. Deportivo seized the initiative in the first 20 minutes of the game, as Olympiakos fought hard to fend the Spaniards off in what was one of the Greek team’s worst performances in this season’s Champions League. The Greeks’ dull start prompted 20,000 spectators at Athens Olympic Stadium to boo and jeer at their team. In the 19th minute, keeper Angelos Georgiou, in his Champions League debut, saved a blistering shot from Djalminha, and another from Emerson 10 minutes later. Olympiakos had almost scored in the 17th when Helder stopped Peter Oforiquaye who was poised to score with keeper Nuno beaten. Six minutes into the second period, Predrag Djordjevic charged down the left wing and passed to Alexis Alexandris, who gave Olympiakos the lead. The visitors besieged the Greek area after the goal, launching successive attacks. The Greek defense resisted but, as has been common in previous Champions League games this season, caved in during the encounter’s final stages. Capdevila headed in the equalizer in the 82nd minute from a corner kick taken by Djalminha. The remaining minutes saw Olympiakos desperately trying for the winner, but the Spaniards checked all attacks. To their credit, the visitors, who played without several key players, showed that they possess depth and discipline. Deportivo’s late equalizer came as a reward for the team’s persistence and serious approach to the game. With the club’s hopes for a respectable run in this year’s Champions League eliminated, and, worse still, no berth in the UEFA Cup for consolation, Olympiakos’s administration may be tempted to make some hard decisions over the coming weeks. The mood is far merrier at the PAOK camp which took a comfortable step into the UEFA Cup’s third round. The Thessaloniki club, which had thrashed its Czech opponent Marila Pribram 6-1 at home in their encounter’s first leg, drew 2-2 away yesterday to advance on an 8-3 aggregate. (AP, Kathimerini) This was followed in the last century by the Diomedis Foundation botanical garden on the Iera Odos, then the Kaisariani garden begun by the Philodasiki’s postwar president, Katy Argyropoulou. Another has recently been opened in northern Greece, representing Balkan flora in general. For a country with the largest variety of endemic plant species in Europe, this is a very small number, considering that in the Alps alone there are around 100 botanical gardens.