Olympiacos took control in the UEFA Champions League play-offs after seeing off a determined defensive display by their visitors.
Olympiacos vs Omonoia: as it happened, reaction
Match in brief
The Greek champions dominated the first half, although Omonoia’s resolute defending largely frustrated their attacks. Mady Camara stung Fabiano’s fingers with a powerful long-range effort and Ahmed Hassan sent a header on to the roof of the net from Mathieu Valbuena’s right-wing cross before Kostas Fortounis also volleyed over the crossbar when well-placed.
Omonoia’s resolve was eventually broken well into the second half, Jan Lecjaks conceding a penalty following a footrace with Lazar Ranđelović which Valbuena converted precisely from the spot. Youssef El-Arabi added a sensational last-gasp second, turning skilfully to create space before firing a low long-range effort into the corner of the net.
Vassiliki Papantonopoulou, Olympiacos reporter
Olympiacos were made to work hard in order to break the deadlock against stubborn Omonoia. The Piraeus outfit were dominant throughout the encounter but rather profligate in the first half. They were more dangerous after the hour mark, when Martins introduced Ranđelović and El-Arabi. The former earned the penalty that Valbuena converted. With more match rhythm and competitive games, Martins’ men should have been more clinical. This was just their third match of the season, so expect them to be improved in a week’s time in Nicosia.
John Leonidou, Omonoia reporter
You could argue that Henning Berg got his game plan spot on up until the penalty and El-Arabi’s late, late strike. The Cypriot visitors arrived in Piraeus to hold off Olympiacos and they did a decent job up until the opener. Omonoia have it all to do in Nicosia next week. They will need to do what no other Cypriot team has done before and overturn a two-goal aggregate deficit in the play-offs.
Henning Berg, Omonoia coach: “We battled well and were still in the contest for a good amount of time. We were unlucky in conceding the penalty and then that late goal. We defended well against a side that is much better than us. We will give our all at home and do what we can to go through. We need to be a little better in our attacking game and have better accuracy and timing. If we can do that, we can score.”
Jordi Gómez, Omonoia captain: “We did a good job and we’re disappointed to concede from a penalty and then a last-minute second goal. Overall they were better than us and we have to accept that. We had some chances but we couldn’t score. We will need to have the perfect game [in Nicosia]. The current score is difficult but we will do whatever we can.”
• Erythrolefki won for only the second time in their last six home matches in UEFA competition (D2 L2).
• Olympiacos are unbeaten in 17 European qualifying fixtures (W14 D3) since a 1-0 loss at Hapoel Beer-Sheva in the 2016/17 UEFA Champions League third qualifying round.
• Olympiacos have recorded two wins and a defeat in their ties against Cypriot clubs since their 1965 contests against these opponents.
• Omonoia had drawn both of their previous UEFA Champions League qualifying matches so far this season, prevailing after extra time twice.
• The Cypriot champions lost for only the second time in their last 13 European fixtures (W7 D4).
Olympiacos: José Sá; Rafinha, Semedo, Ba, Holebas; Camara, Bouchalakis; Masoura (Ranđelović 59), Fortounis (El-Arabi 59), Valbuena; Ahmed Hassan (M’Vila 76)
Omonoia: Fabiano; Lecjaks, Lüftner, Lang, Hubočan; Vítor Gomes, Jordi Gómez, Bautheac (Loizou 87); Thiago, Sene (Ďuriš 46), Papoulis (Asante 81)
The second leg takes place in Nicosia on Tuesday 29 September. The winner enters the draw for the UEFA Champions League group stage, staged in Nyon on 1 October.