Ansarifard double sparks another Olympiacos come from behind victory
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 13
|Olympiacos||3 - 1||Apollon Smyrnis|
|Eli Elbaz 23'
A strong second-half and a double from super sub Karim Ansarifard helped Olympiacos take maximum points against Apollon Smyrni on Saturday, with an entertaining matchday 13 clash at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium ending in a 3-1 win for the hosts - a result which saw the Erythrolefki move top of the standings...
Apollon, who are coached by Zoran Vulić, looked like they might pull off a surprise result when Eli Elbaz gave them a shock 1-0 lead after 23 minutes. The advantage lasted just eight minutes, however, with Norway defender Omar Elabdellaoui levelling for Takis Lemonis’ side to ensure the match was level at half-time.
Then Olympiacos moved through the gears in a dominant second-half display, grabbing a second goal 10 minutes from full-time through substitute Ansarifard, before the Iran forward headed in a third in added time as the visitors crumbled.
The result means Olympiacos are top with 26 points, one point clear of PAOK, while third-placed AEK - who had been top at the start of the day - will have the chance to take over the leadership again on Sunday when they visit Levadiakos.
Although Olympiacos were made to work hard for the three points, Apollon also needed a superb goalkeeping performance from Ivan Čović to keep the Piraeus club at bay with a string of fine saves.
Olympiacos went into the match looking to emulate PAOK, who just minutes before kick-off had defeated Xanthi 2-0 to go top, but they found themselves a goal behind after a woeful defensive error by Pape Abou Cissé.
The Senegalese central defender was robbed of possession by Apollon forward Elbaz, and the 25-year-old Israeli marksman skipped past Alberto Botia before beating Olympiacos goalkeeper Silvio Proto with a clinical finish.
The home side did not panic though, and they caught Apollon napping at the back to level the scores after 31 minutes. Alaixys Romao sent a great pass through for the advancing Elabdellaoui, and the 25-year-old Norwegian kept his cool to fire past a helpless Čović in the Apollon goal.
That sent the teams into the dressing rooms at half-time with the scores locked at 1-1, and from then on it was the home side who looked most likely to take the three points, which they eventually did.
Olympiacos had to get past a determined Čović first, with the Croatian custodian making a superb save to deny Serbian striker Uroš Đurđević’s first-time shot after 57 minutes.
The hosts had the ball in the net 10 minutes later when Belgian defender Björn Engels scored from close-range, but the goal was chalked off because of an offside by Cissé, who also committed a foul in the build-up.
A goal finally came for Olympiacos 10 minutes from time and was a beauty, with the two second-half substitutes Felipe Pardo and Ansarifard combining brilliantly. Colombian forward Pardo was the architect, sending over an exceptional cross to pick out Iran forward Ansarifard, who finished clinically.
It should have been 3-1 to Olympiacos just two minutes later but Čović again came to his team’s rescue, making a remarkable double save to deny both Ansarifard and Kostas Fortounis.
The third goal did come in the fourth minute of added time when Ansarifard evaded his marker expertly to head home Fortounis’ cross.