Olympiakos has gained the upper hand in the battle for a spot in the knock-out stages of the Champions League after drawing 1-1 at Benfica on Wednesday.
The Greeks came within seven minutes of their second away win this season, after beating Anderlecht in Brussels, but a late equalizer deprived them of the full three points at the water-logged pitch in Lisbon.
Olympiakos played a clever game in the first half absorbing the hosts’ pressure through its defensive midfielders and creating several chances on the counter attack, one of which gave the Greek champion the lead in the 29th minute.
It was a great team move by Olympiakos, with Costas Mitroglou sending the ball across the penalty area through a back flick to Alejandro “Chori” Dominguez, who toyed with his opponent before sending his shot to the Benfica net in fine style.
The Reds could have added to their tally later on but this just wasn’t Mitroglou’s day, having scored a hat-trick in Brussels three weeks earlier.
The second half was dominated by Benfica in rainy conditions, but Olympiakos seemed to manage to escape the danger on every occasion even though its keeper, Roberto, was not at his best against his former club.
Olympiakos actually thought it had scored a second in the 81st, but Mitroglou’s goal was disallowed as offside. Barely two minutes later Benfica equalized, as a scramble in the six-yard box ended with Oscar Cardozo landing the ball and slotting it into the net from close range for 1-1.
This was the first draw away from home for Olympiakos in the Champions League after 17 games with victories or losses on the road.
The next encounter between the two teams will be in two weeks’ time in Piraeus, and victory for Olympiakos will make it near certain that it will advance to the last 16 of the competition. The Greeks have four points from three games, the same as Benfica, and lie five behind runaway leader Paris St Germain.