Olympiakos’s European run ends with a drubbing

A double from Newcastle captain Alan Shearer inspired his side to a 4-0 humbling of Greek outfit Olympiakos and handed them a place in the UEFA Cup quarterfinals here on Wednesday night with a 7-1 final aggregate score. Shearer’s brace took him to 191 career goals for the Magpies and within nine of the club record, held by Jackie Milburn. There were goals also for Kieron Dyer – he also created Shearer’s first – and Lee Bowyer, who scored his third of the campaign. Victory gave Newcastle their eighth victory in a row in all competitions – the first time in a decade they have achieved that feat. Newcastle manager Graeme Souness praised his team to the heavens for not letting their first leg 3-1 advantage slip away and admitted he had never been so nervous before a match. «I’m delighted. When you win 3-1 away from home it seems the job is done, but other sides, including one of mine, have slipped up. The older you get you don’t want to get bitten again. The players gave us the big start and kept them on the back foot; don’t forget we have beaten a side that garnered 10 points in their Champions League group but still finished third,» said Souness. The charismatic Scot praised Dyer, who back in September looked to be on his way out because of a poor attitude. «Dyer was superb tonight. He was always a threat. We know he is quick and clever but tonight his touch was excellent and his attitude was outstanding.» However, Souness said just because they had got eight wins in a row was not a cause for resting on their laurels. «It means you can’t become complacent. We have had a really big night tonight but it doesn’t mean the next match will be like that. However I am really delighted with the attitude of the players,» added Souness, who ever since dispatching bad boy Craig Bellamy on loan to Celtic after a very public bust-up has seen the team’s fortunes turn round. Dyer scored a beautiful goal in the 18th minute to dash any hopes of an Olympiakos miracle result as he ran from an onside position to collect Bowyer’s header, and with his back to goal backheeled the ball past Euro 2004 winning keeper Antonis Nikopolidis. Shearer should have made it 2-0 after just half an hour, but clean through on goal he blasted a shot high over the bar to the evident frustration of manager Souness. He was inches away from redeeming himself five minutes later as Laurent Robert whipped in a free kick and the former England captain got free of his marker, but his outstretched boot was just inches short of making contact with the ball. The Robert-Shearer combination worked well again as the half drew to a close: The Frenchman got down the left flank and his brilliant cross saw Shearer get his head to it but it went agonizingly inches wide of the far post. The Magpies were all over the Greek side and it was Robert who came close next as his free kick was well on target before taking a slight deflection which sent it for a corner. Shearer finally managed to get on the scoresheet at the stroke of halftime as Dyer’s brilliant run to the byline saw the England midfielder drag the ball back and the Newcastle captain was on hand to shoot home, though a deflection gave the keeper no chance. Newcastle continued the rout in the 55th minute as Bowyer’s tamely hit shot squeezed under Nikopolidis’s body and over the line which was rough justice for the Greek keeper as he had just made a brilliant save to deny Bowyer a goal from a header. Shearer doubled his tally with a fine goal in the 69th minute. Rounding the keeper but with a defender rushing back to goal, he changed his tactics at the last second and lofted the ball into the top of the net. (AFP)

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