SPORTS

No more corners, please!

A disastrous second half for Olympiakos brought about a 4-1 mauling at the hands of Paris St Germain in Piraeus on Tuesday, the opening night of the 2013-14 Champions League. The Reds were at 1-1 with the French giant at half-time, but conceded three goals after as many corner kicks in the second half to start its campaign with a home loss.

The Greek champion played very well in the first half and struck the woodwork twice in the first 15 minutes, before Edinson Cavani gave the French an undeserved lead on the 19th minute after beating the Olympiakos offside trap from a Zlatan Ibrahimovic through-ball to Maxwell.

Just six minutes later, though, Vladimir Weiss scored a spectacular goal after a solo effort that had three Paris SG defenders stranded with his move around them to make it 1-1. The Reds had more chances to score up to the end of the first half as they dominated the halfway line and often seemed irresistible in attack.

Yet the second half was a completely different proposition… Paris was dominant in possession and made the most of the tiredness that made the Olympiakos legs heavier, to create one chance after another. Even so the Reds’ defense responded up to the 68th minute, when the corner kicks started.

Substitute Ezequiel Lavezzi, who tipped the balance in the visitors’ favor, took the corner and Thiago Motta headed the ball in for 2-1. Five minutes later the same sequence was repeated, with Lavezzi taking the corner and Motta making it 3-1.

Andreas Samaris then conceded a penalty to Ibrahimovic, but the Swedish super star failed to beat Olympiakos keeper Roberto, who made a double save to keep the score at 3-1 on the 82nd.

Not for long, though. Another corner, this time from the left by Motta for Paris picked out Marquinhos who rose with ease for the final 4-1 score four minutes from time.

While Olympiakos can easily get away with playing for just 45 minutes in the Greek league, the Champions League is a completely different matter. Unless its coach, Michel, takes that into account, he can hardly expect to celebrate Christmas as the Olympiakos manager. His inactivity in the second half, with substitutions coming far too late, came on top of the team’s poor preparation for set pieces.

To their credit, the Olympiakos fans (or the half of them which chose to stay at their seats and not depart early) recognized the effort of their players in this tough game and applauded them after the final whistle.