SPORTS

Olympiakos still looking for points after defeat at Lyon

LYON (Reuters) – A last-gasp goal enabled Olympique Lyon to extend the perfect start to their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 win over Olympiakos on Wednesday night. Forward Sidney Govou collected a fine Juninho pass to strike from close range with a minute left and present the four-time French champions with their third victory from as many Group F games. They have nine points, three more than Real Madrid, 4-1 winners over Rosenborg Trondheim. The Ligue 1 leaders, who have not lost in any competition this season, need just one point from their remaining three matches to make sure to reach the knockout stage. «It was complicated but we showed character,» said Lyon coach Gerard Houllier after Wednesday’s win. «It’s the first time we have won our first three Champions League matches. I’m very proud of my players,» the former Liverpool manager added. Olympiakos, who face elimination after three defeats, thought they had earned a draw when midfielder Pantelis Kaffes fired in under the crossbar with six minutes remaining. A superb free kick from 25 meters by Brazil midfielder Juninho on four minutes had put Lyon in the lead. The four-time French champions failed to sparkle but did enough to win and could always rely on the skills of Juninho, who was again the match winner. Olympiakos, who were missing former Brazil midfielder Rivaldo and left-back Grigoris Georgatos through injuries, were left chasing their first Champions League away win after 27 attempts. Two minutes after Juninho opened the scoring, Govou came close to doubling the lead when he raced into the box after a great solo run and fired just over the crossbar. The Lyon defense looked uncharacteristically nervous at times in the first half but the visitors created few chances. Their best came on the half-hour when a powerful shot from the edge of the box by midfielder Ieroklis Stoltidis required a great save from France goalkeeper Gregory Coupet. Lyon rarely thrilled their fans after the break but were still the more dangerous. Mali midfielder Mahamadou Diarra hit the back of the net with a header from a Juninho free kick in the 57th minute but another Lyon player was flagged offside. Six minutes later Portugal’s Tiago was denied by a spectacular save from Olympiakos goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis. Lyon, whose Champions League adventure has ended in the quarterfinals the last two seasons, started their current run with a stunning 3-0 victory over Real Madrid and went on to win 1-0 at Rosenborg Trondheim. Their aim is to reach the final, which will be played at the Stade de France. [In other European club-level action, Thessaloniki club PAOK, Greece’s only survivor in the less prestigious UEFA Cup competition, went down 1-0 away to Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk in its opening group match. The home side’s Evaeyerson Brand’o scored the encounter’s sole goal from the penalty spot in the 68th minute.]