Scoreless Greeks see Europa League hopes dim


Olympiakos and PAOK saw their chances for a spot in the last 16 of the Europa League diminish dramatically after the first-leg games on Thursday, as Olympiakos drew 0-0 at home with Osmanlispor and PAOK lost 3-0 in Thessaloniki to Schalke.

In a quite forgettable game at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus, Olympiakos was the better team but could not find a way through the Turkish defense and its keeper Zydrunas Karcemarskas who was the game’s best player. Missing headline striker Brown Ideye due to injury proved decisive for the Greeks.

Things got more awkward when Bruno Viana left the host with 10 men on the 74th minute after seeing a straight red for a foul on Vaclav Prochazka.

The belated introduction of Olympiakos forward Karim Ansarifard just four minutes from the end raised many fans’ eyebrows at the stadium, with the Greeks being left without a striker for 10 minutes after the substitution of starter Oscar Cardozo.

At least Olympiakos managed to stop the scoring streak of the Ankara team, who had scored in all of their eight previous games in Europe this season, their first ever in European competition.

At Toumba Stadium PAOK was very far from its fans expectations, given its strong showing in the Greek league, letting Schalke dictate the game throughout.

Austrian Guido Burgstaller opened the score on the 27th minute after taking advantage of goalkeeper Panayiotis Glykos’s spill.

Then with PAOK doing virtually nothing to cancel out the Germans’ lead, the visitors scored twice in the last 10 minutes, via Max Meyer and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar to complete the routing of the Greek team.

Both return legs will take place on February 23.