Olympiacos held by Besiktas after Leali gaffe
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - ROUND OF 16 (LEG 1)
|Olympiacos||1 - 1||Besiktas|
|Cambiasso 36'||Aboubakar 52'|
Olympiacos were held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie with Besiktas after goalkeeper Nicola Leali’s mistake gifted the Turkish club a precious equaliser at the Georgios Karaisakis stadium on Thursday.
Esteban Cambiasso’s stooping header in the first half had given interim coach Vasilis Vouzas, who replaced the sacked Paulo Bento on Monday, high hopes of a winning start on his debut in the home dugout.
But Leali’s suspect kicking abilities were exposed when his poor clearance fell straight to the feet of Besiktas striker Vincent Aboubakar, who scored what may prove to be a vital away goal to level the match and essentially make the Turks favourites to claim a place in the quarter-finals.
Bestikas now simply have to avoid defeat in Istanbul next week to secure their place in the draw for the last eight.
Olympiacos more than held their own against Senol Gunes’ strong Super Lig outfit on a rain-soaked night in Piraeus, however, as for all their possession play Besiktas were restricted largely to a few long range efforts from Portugal star Ricardo Quaresma.
As the first half wore on Olympiacos grew in confidence and always looked dangerous on the counter attack with the pace of wideman Tarik Elyounoussi and striker Karim Ansarifard a threat.
And it was the speed and quick feet of Ansarifard which brought a well-deserved breakthrough for the hosts in the 36th minute.
The Iranian forward jinked his way down the right before curling over a precise cross which was met by the perfectly timed run of Cambiasso, with the veteran Argentine gleefully sending a downward header past Fabri to spark jubilant celebrations among both Olympiacos players and fans.
Just after half-time captain Alberto Botia had the chance to make it 2-0 but his header fizzed inches wide from a Kostas Fortounis free-kick.
The hosts then shot themselves in the foot when Leali miscued his clearance into the path of Aboubakar, who wasted no time in surging towards goal before sending a clinical low shot past the hapless home keeper.
Neither side could find a winner as the tempo of the match faded in the latter stages of the second half, and Olympiacos have a tough task on their hands if they are to book a place in the last eight.