Bad Champions League night leaves Greek clubs at bottom

It was a grim night for Greek soccer on Tuesday as two of the country’s three Champions League representatives, Olympiakos and AEK, suffered defeats in third-round games that leave both at the bottom of their groups. An early goal by Cihan Haspolatli helped Turkish team Galatasaray beat Olympiakos 1-0 in their Group D game played before a fervent home crowd. Also on Tuesday, AEK went down to PSV Eindhoven 1-0 in Athens after a first-half goal from Theo Lucius gave the Dutch team a deserved victory and its first Champions League points this season. Group C’s last-placed AEK has one point from three games, two behind Eindhoven, now third. Olympiakos, an improved yet possibly unfortunate side in Europe so far this year, went into Tuesday’s game following near misses for points against Juventus and Real Sociedad. Yet, despite controlling much of the play, the Greek team suffered its third consecutive Champions League loss in as many games. Galatasaray’s victory earned the team its first competition points but a three-point gap seperates the Turkish team from second-placed Real Sociedad. Juventus leads Group D with a perfect record and nine points. At Olympiakos, players refused to accept that their efforts had failed to reward them with at least one point from the Istanbul clash. «Perhaps we need to play badly to get a good result. I can’t accept that we lost. Without a doubt, we should have won this one,» said Christian Karembeu. «But we still have three games to go. Two of these are at home [Galatasaray and Real Sociedad] and we can win them,» he added. Galatasaray’s goal scorer, Haspolatli, who played with stitches in his knee, lobbed the ball into the left corner of the net in the ninth minute off a pass by Arif Erdem. It proved enough to give the Turkish team its first victory in eight Champions League games, and keep it in touch with second-placed Real Sociedad, which lost 4-2 to Juventus in Italy. Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim said a behind-the-scenes incident broke out between Olympiakos’s Brazilian striker Giovanni and Galatasaray captain Bulent Korkmaz during halftime. «Giovanni punched Bulent in the eye during the break, but unfortunately nobody saw it,» said Terim. Only around 80 fans from Greece attended the game, according to the Anatolia news agency. Another 250 other tickets were given to members of Istanbul’s small Greek minority. Galatasaray and Olympiakos both gave up tickets for their away games in a bid to avoid violence in the Greek-Turkish games. The two teams play again in Athens on November 5. (Kathimerini, AP)