10-Man Barca Too Much For Below-Par Olympiacos
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE - MATCHDAY 3
|Barcelona||3 - 1||Olympiacos|
|Nikolaou (OG) 19'
Olympiacos were put to the sword by 10-man Barcelona on Wednesday as Takis Lemonis’ disappointing team slumped to a limp 3-1 defeat to their former coach Ernesto Valverde’s men on a rain-soaked night at the Camp Nou.
The Greek champions were not expected to get any points before a ball was kicked, but despite going a goal down in the first half when Dimitris Nikolaou scored an own goal, the sending off of Barca defender Gerard Pique for a handball which earned him a second yellow card just before half-time gave the Piraeus club hope.
However, Lemonis’ players continued to sit far too deep after half-time and they were punished by the home side who scored twice in two minutes just after the hour mark to effectively end the match as a contest.
The first came from Leonel Messi, who scored a trademark free-kick for his 100th goal in UEFA competitions after being felled needlessly on the edge of the box by Nikolaou, before Lucas Digne slotted in from a Messi assist to complete the scoring.
Nikolaou did managed to slightly atone for his earlier indiscretions by heading in a late consolation goal.
Lemonis will see this game as an opportunity to at least pinch a point lost, however, with his team lacking in ideas and energy on a night when they should have been as motivated as ever.
Things did not start well for the Erythrolefki in this Matchday 3 clash in Spain, with Nikolaou the unlucky defender on the end of a driven, low cross by Barca’s Gerard Deulofeu which flew past Silvio Proto in the visiting goal after 18 minutes.
It looked an uphill struggle for Olympiacos from then on, but having said that the visitors managed to keep Valverde’s team at arm’s length, limiting their shots on Proto’s goal.
And they received a huge boost three minutes from half-time when Pique handled the ball into the net for what he thought was Barca’s second goal. Scottish referee William Collum thought otherwise, however, showing the bemused Spain defender a second yellow before brandishing the red to send him for an early bath.
Instead of coming out in the second half on the front foot to try and threaten the home side, however, Olympiacos found it difficult to break the pattern of the first half and sat far too dee in their own half when not in possession of the ball.
This invited Barca on to them and during a purple patch around the hour mark, Messi worked his magic and the game was quickly put to bed.
The unfortunate Nikolaou did manage to end a poor game on a high by heading home a consolation goal for Olympiacos from a Kostas Fortounis corner in the last minute.