Olympiakos falls fighting

MONACO (AFP) – Monaco’s new South American strikeforce Javier Saviola and Ernesto Chevanton produced dream goals to sink Olympiakos 2-1 in a Champions League Group A match here Tuesday. The win left last season’s beaten finalists on top of the table and coach Didier Deschamps relieved that his gamble in playing three strikers had paid off. Olympiakos coach Dusan Bajevic felt his side were robbed of a second goal two minutes from time when Ioannis Okkas’s effort was judged not to have entirely crossed the line. «I don’t know what to say about the goal that we weren’t allowed. What can we say to all the fans who made the effort to come here? Excuses aren’t enough but we’ll see what happens in the return leg in Athens.» Monaco went ahead in the third minute courtesy of Saviola’s sublime solo run which outfoxed four Greek defenders before the Argentine striker fired the ball over keeper Antonios Nikopolidis with the outside of his foot. Not to be outsmarted, the on-loan Barcelona forward’s fellow South American Chevanton produced his own moment of magic seven minutes later. After picking the ball up on the left of the area, the Uruguayan forward deftly sidestepped a defender before unleashing a turning shot into the top right-hand corner. After this double whammy it took some time for the Greeks to recover their composure, but once they did they needled Monaco’s defense with Rivaldo the ringmaster of many of the moves. Giovanni almost pulled one back a minute before the break, his 35-meter flyer just edging the wrong side of the cross bar with Monaco’s giant Italian keeper Flavio Roma beaten. Monaco emerged for the second period mindful of having squandered a three-goal advantage to lose 4-3 against Nice in a recent league match, and they must have felt a sense of deja vu creeping up on them as Olympiakos pulled one back on the hour mark. Cypriot striker Okkas did the damage, nonchalantly slotting the ball past Roma at close range after Pantelis Kafes’s pass beat Monaco’s offside trap. The goal quickened Olympiakos’s step and it was they and not Monaco who began to look the stronger side. Okkas almost grabbed the equalizer after he picked up a perfect delivery in the area from Kafes on the right, but the former AEK attacker fluffed the gilt-edged opportunity by firing his shot over the crossbar. With Monaco on their back feet, Olympiakos peppered Roma’s goal in the final 10 minutes, and they collectively had their heads in their hands when a frantic goalmouth scramble in the 88th minute left Okkas a close-range header which hit Pontus Farnerud on the chest right on the goal line. Appeals for a goal were turned down, however, when Dutch referee Jan Wegereef ruled the ball had not entirely crossed the line. The win left Monaco on top with six points from Olympiakos on four with group rivals Liverpool and Deportivo La Coruna playing out a 0-0 draw at Anfield.