Olympiacos limp out of Europe after Juventus defeat
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - GROUP D (MATCHDAY 6)
|Olympiacos||0 - 2||Juventus|
Juventus claimed a spot in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday after comfortably seeing off Olympiacos 2-0 at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium in Piraeus in their final Group D match.
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Goals from Juan Cuadrado and substitute Federico Bernardeschi proved the difference between the two teams on a chilly night in Athens, where Massimiliano Allegri’s side never looked in threat of losing to the Greek champions.
Ben Nabouhane, who was brought on from the bench for the last 20 minutes, came closest to scoring for Olympiacos when he headed onto the crossbar with eight minutes left.
The outcome was a limp end to a disappointing European campaign for Takis Lemonis’ team, who ended the group stage bottom of the section with just one point and four goals to show from their six matches - with 13 goals conceded.
It was always going to be an uphill struggle for the Erythrolefki in a very tough group, but the matches against Sporting in particular have been tough for Olympiacos supporters to take.
Meanwhile Allegri’s side, who were last season’s finalists, ended the group stage with 11 points and join Barcelona in the Round of 16 which gets underway in February.
This matchday 6 contest was all about salvaging some pride for Lemonis’ men, who had no hopes of getting off the bottom of the group after defeat to Sporting Lisbon two weeks ago left them cut adrift.
But it was Juventus who began the match with a spring in their step, and Olympiacos goalkeeper Silvio Proto was called into action after just seven minutes, rescuing his team with a superb diving save from Paulo Dybala’s cute, left-footed shot.
Olympiacos responded well, though, with birthday boy Omar Elabdellaoui stinging the palms of Juve keeper Wojciech Szczesny with a powerful long range shot moments later.
That didn’t deter Juve from pressing forward and the Italians finally broke the deadlock after 15 minutes when left-back Alex Sandro surged down the left before crossing for Cuadrado to slot home from close-range into an empty net with Proto helpless to do anything about it.
The hosts struggled to get hold of the ball as Juve dominated possession for long spells thereafter, but they almost pulled level from a 42nd-minute corner when striker Uros Djurdjevic’s downward header was a saved superbly by a sprawling Szczesny.
That was the home side’s best chance to score in the first half, and after a low key second half in which neither side threatened, Ben’s header off the bar late on was the only other goal threat throughout a frustrating 90 minutes for the home side.
A miserable night was complete for the hosts when Bernardeschi, who just minutes earlier was denied by Proto, cut inside and drilled a fine finish across the Belgian keeper to score.