Olympiakos grabs crucial points against the formidable Monaco

A late goal by Argentinean Gabriel Schurrer dealt a severe blow to Monaco’s hopes of returning to the Champions League final on Wednesday as Olympiakos defeated the French side 1-0 in their Group A clash at home. The 33-year-old’s goal six minutes from time ensured the Greek giants went to the top of the group alongside Liverpool, who won 1-0 away at Deportivo La Coruna, with Monaco slipping from first to third a point adrift of the top two, with two matches remaining. Olympiakos coach Dusan Bajevic said it was mission achieved. «We got what we wanted from the match and that is the three points,» said Bajevic, who had guided his side to a similar victory over Liverpool. «This gives us the momentum we want ahead of the Deportivo La Coruna match, as I don’t want to go to Liverpool in the final match needing to qualify,» he added. Deserved run His Monaco counterpart Didier Deschamps said Olympiakos deserved to be in contention for a knockout phase place but believed his side deserved a point. «This group is going to go down to the wire, rather like this match which could have gone either way. I still think we deserved a point,» added the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning French captain. Schurrer’s strike was much deserved as the hosts had done all the attacking in the second half. Deschamps’s promise that he would rely on attack rather than defense failed to materialize. The hosts had started off forcefully, with Monaco unable to clear their half and Flavio Roma was forced into his first save of what promised to be a busy night in the seventh minute from Brazilian great Rivaldo’s freekick. Creative best Rivaldo was at his creative best in the 15th minute as he played a wonderful one-two with compatriot Giovanni – their leading scorer with four goals in all competitions – but his volley failed to trouble Silva as it went over the bar. Monaco rallied with Sierra Leone striker Mohammed Kallon – the visitors’ leading scorer in all competitions, with nine goals – firing a warning shot at the Greeks when he audaciously lobbed their keeper Antonis Nikopolidis but saw it land on the netting. Duly encouraged, Monaco attacked with more confidence and Kallon’s giant strike partner Emmanuel Adebayor almost gave them the lead with a great volley from Javier Saviola’s cross, but the Togolese star’s effort went over the bar with the keeper beaten. Kallon was unstoppable as the Greeks wilted in front of his skills and the former Inter Milan star had the final effort of the half but his long-range shot crept wide of the post. The hosts began the second half as they had the first, searching for the opener and Roma had to be at his best to save from Cypriot striker Ioannis Okkas in the 50th minute. Monaco thought they had won a penalty shortly afterward, as Saviola went down under a challenge by Dimitris Mavrogenidis but their appeals were waved away by experienced German referee Markus Merk. Close escape However the visitors got away with blue murder on the hour mark as Giovanni’s superb free kick beat Roma but unluckily came back off the bar which perhaps provoked Deschamps into taking off his most effective attacker Kallon and replacing him with the defensive midfielder Pontus Farnerud. However, Giovanni’s effort did him little good as he was substituted five minutes later by Bajevic. It mattered little, as Schurrer stole in to shoot past Roma after being fed, from close range, by Giorgos Anatolakis. Meanwhile, in a UEFA Cup match played late last night, Athens club Aegaleo suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat against Partizan in Belgrade. (AFP)