Leali’s European Nights to Forget
Nicola Leali played a big role in Olympiacos’ elimination to Besiktas in the Europa League, however it was not the first time the Italian goalkeeper had an off night in this year’s Europa League.
Nicola Leali’s terrible showing on Thursday was a continuation of his horrendous season in this year’s Europa League for Olympiacos. The Italian goalkeeper gave up three “cheap” goals in Thursday’s return leg, but also in the first leg at the Karaiskakis Stadium. Things were not any better in the group stages as he was to blame for multiple goals conceded by the Erythrolefki early on in the competition. Leali was the starting goalkeeper in ALL 10 Europa League matches this season (group stages and knockout stages) and conceded 11 goals.
OLYMPIACOS - APOEL
APOEL celebrated victory at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium with Pieros Sotiriou’s goal separating the sides at the final whistle. The Cypriot striker headed home in the 10th minute, taking advantage of a poor exit from Leali on the cross from the right side.
APOEL - OLYMPIACOS
In the rematch in Cyprus, Leali was to blame once again as APOEL defeated Olympiacos 2-0 to win the group on the final matchday. Sotiriou opened the scoring when a long ball was played over the Olympiacos defense, however Leali came well of his line and completely misjudged the ball, leaving Sotiriou with a somewhat easy task to score in front of an open net. Sotiriou’s goal led the way before APOEL sealed the win with a late second goal. View at 00:28.
OLYMPIACOS - ASTANA
Despite an easy 4-1 win for Olympiacos at home to Astana, the visitors’ only goal of the game came from Leali’s gaffe. The 24-year old passed the ball to Kabananga and he easily chipped the ball over Leali to make the score 3-1. View at 3:15.
OLYMPIACOS - BESIKTAS
In Olympiacos’ first leg matchup against Besiktas at the Karaiskaki Stadium, it was Deja Vu for Leali...Once again the Juventus player (on loan) passed the ball to the opposing team, this time to Aboubakar, and the Besiktas striker made no mistake to bring the game level 1-1 early in the second half. The goal not only changed the complexion of the match, but gave Besiktas the all-important away goal (and draw) which made them the favorites to advance in the return leg. View at 1:48.
BESIKTAS - OLYMPIACOS
Of course this brings us to what happened on Thursday...Leali failed to collect the ball in his six-yard box before the play developed into Aboubakar’s opening goal, which put Besiktas in the driver’s seat. Leali was then unable to save a rather easy attempt from Babel’s strike, which made it 2-0, before the nail in the coffin came when Babel once again was the scorer after his shot was parried into the net by Leali.