A win for the record books

Olympiakos’s long-awaited first away victory in the Champions League – a 15-year-old competition – on Wednesday night, a 3-1 win at Werder Bremen that ended a 31-match rut, also heralded other noteworthy facts for the record. It was the Piraeus team’s first ever win in Germany, on a day marking German Unity Day, and fourth in total by any Greek team. Wednesday’s win also increased the consecutive number of European club-level triumphs by Greek teams to seven. With Panathinaikos already through to the UEFA Cup’s group stage with double victories against Artmedia for a 5-1 aggregate score, the country’s four other hopefuls, AEK, Aris, Larissa, and Panionios, were scheduled to vie for UEFA Cup group berths late last night, having won their first-leg games. Olympiakos’s win at Werder Bremen took the Greek club to top spot in Group C, tied with Real Madrid, with four points from two games. The Greek team meets the Spanish co-front-runner in its next two Champions League encounters, first in Madrid on October 24 and then at Karaiskaki Stadium on November 6. Should Olympiakos manage to garner any points from either of these two mammoth tasks, the Piraeus team will stand a genuine chance of advancing to the Champions League’s next stage, from a group deemed to be one of the toughest. Surprisingly, Werder Bremen lies last in Group C without points. Italy’s Lazio is third with two points following draws against Olympiakos at Karaiskaki Stadium and Real Madrid in Rome on Wednesday. «Our win today [Wednesday] at Werder Bremen was a supreme team effort. In the first half we did not concentrate or act quickly enough when in possession, but in the second we did much better and put in a great performance,» said Olympiakos coach Takis Lemonis. «We were effective as a team and my team has written history today thanks to a very strong performance in the second half. We need to repeat this level of performance against Real Madrid when we meet them next.» Hugo Almeida gave the Bundesliga club the lead in the first half but midfielder Ieroklis Stoltidis, voted the Man of the Match, leveled relatively late, in the 73rd minute. Then, nine minutes later, defender Christos Patsatzoglou thundered in a deflected shot from 30 meters to put Olympiakos ahead. Connecting with a loose ball, substitute Darko Kovacevic, whose entry into the game on 72 minutes helped swing the game in favor of Olympiakos, sealed the 3-1 victory three minutes from time with a delicate touch over fallen keeper Christian Vander, a tournament newcomer. Olympiakos keeper Antonis Nikopolidis denied Werder Bremen several times with brilliant saves. «It doesn’t look good for us now, we have no points after the opening two matches,» acknowledged Werder coach Thomas Schaaf. «It will be very difficult for us.»