It was a mixed week for the four Greek clubs involved in Champions League and Europa League matches. Olympiakos played well in Moldavia to secure victory while PAO put up a fight in going down in Athens. PAOK and AEK are on tenderhooks in the Europa League with their progression depending on results of their next round of matches on Thursday.

Sheriff Tiraspol     0
Olympiakos     2

Two wonderful second-half goals in Moldova against Sheriff Tiraspol have virtually assured Olympiakos of a place in the group stages of the Champions League.

The Reds beat their lowly opponents 2-0 thanks to goals from Brazilian midfielder Dudu just seconds after the start of the second half and from young Greek striker Costas Mitroglou towards the end of the game and just seconds after he came on as a substitute.

Olympiakos coach Temuri Ketsbaia had warned his players not to be too complacent ahead of the game but this appeared to translate into the Greek champions giving the Moldovan minnows too much respect and in turn produced a very tepid first-half.

The visitors came closest to scoring when an Avraam Papadopoulos header at a corner came crashing off the post.

It got much better for the Reds in the second half though. Dudu set the tone when he picked up the ball a few meters into the FC Sheriff half and after progressing unchallenged unleashed a swerving shot that left goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco grasping at thin air.

The home side was unable to find a way back into the game and Olympiakos began to play at their pace with Dudu running the game for the Reds.

The visitors wrapped things up in the 82nd minute when Mitroglou, who had just replaced Diogo, brushed off the challenge of Vazha Tarkhnishvili as he raced on goal then went past another FC Sheriff defender before slotting the ball in the bottom corner.

Ketsbaia celebrated the goal with his backroom staff, knowing that it will now take an upset of gigantic proportions for Olympiakos to fail to qualify for the group stage.

“In the second half we were much better and created lots of chances,” said Ketsbaia. “We lacked the composure necessary to produce the final pass or to finish off the good moves we made.”

The Georgian knows that there is plenty of room for improvement before his side take on the Moldovans again in the return leg at the Karaiskakis Stadium on Wednsday, August 26.

“I can’t say I’m happy about the performance today, especially in the first half but the most important thing in these games is to get the right result,” he said.

PAO     2
Atletico Madrid     3

Panathinaikos’s hopes of making the group stage of the Champions League are all but over after the Greens lost 3-2 to Atletico Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on Wednesday night.

The Greeks battled hard for 90 minutes but the gulf in class with the Primera Liga side told as the visitors’ attacking triumvirate of Maxi Rodriguez, Diego Forlan and Sergio Aguero dismantled Panathinaikos’s dreams of advancing with some clinical finishing.

The home side gave their fans some hope with some classy finishes from Dimitris Salpigidis and Sebastian Leto but the final scoreline is one that Henk ten Cate’s men will find extremely difficult to overcome in the Vicente Calderon Stadium in Madrid next week.

Despite having to draft midfielder Gilberto Silva in as a makeshift central defender, Panathinaikos looked well organized and fairly solid at the back for most of the first half.

However, the crisp passing and clever movement of Atletico’s attackers eventually forged an opening for Rodriguez in the 37th minute and he latched onto a pass from Forlan to send the ball past Mario Galinovic in the Panathinaikos goal.

The Greens did not lose their composure and came out all guns blazing in the second half, aided by Ten Cate’s decision to take off Marcelo Mattos and put on Leto.

This more attacking philosophy soon paid off as Giorgos Karagounis delivered a defence-splitting pass that Salpigidis raced onto and his lob nestled in the back of the net.

At 1-1 and with a crowd of more than 60,000 fans urging them on, Panathinaikos looked like they could cause an upset.

But Atletico’s strikers always looked dangerous and when Forlan found some space on the edge of the box in the 64th minute he unleashed a shot that Galinovic could do nothing about.

However, the pick of the Spaniards’ goals came in the 71st minute when Aguero danced past two defenders in the penalty box and slotted the ball home with a diagonal shot.

His mesmeric effort even drew applause from some of the home fans.

They were cheering even louder in the 75th minute when from an angle that appeared too tight to have an effort on goal, Leto unleashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner.

Panathinaikos went in search for the equalizer in the closing minutes and missed a couple of good chances to make it 3-3.

Although the result was not what they had been looking for, the performance certainly gave Panathinaikos players and fans something to build on for the rest of the season, even if that won’t include Champions League football.

SC Vaslui     1
AEK     1

AEK did not look like a team full of confidence on Thursday night.

In fact, the visitors showed little in terms of determination to win the game before Vaslui scored the opening goal through Wesley Lopes da Silva on the half-hour mark.

The Brazilian stooped to send a close range header past Sebastian Saja. AEK did not start creating chances until the second half when Grigoris Makos saw his header go wide and then goal machine Ismael Blanco had his powerful shot well saved.

Rafik Djebbour was brought down.

No doubt Dusan Bajevic would have been pleased with 1-1 but his joy was shortlived as the Romanians won a penalty of their own in the 83rd minute.

Wesley stepped up to send the ball past Saja again.

The result leaves AEK plenty to do in the return leg

PAOK     1
Herenveen     1

PAOK have everything to play for in Holland next week after coming from behind to draw.

The home side had the edge over the visitors, particularly in the first half, but a combination of poor finishing and lack of assuredness at the back due to injury problems meant that PAOK were not able to win

Despite pressure on the Dutch goal in the first 45, Heerenveen, managed by former Olympiakos coach Trond Sollied, were not just able to hold out for the half-time whistle but went one better.
The precious away goal came in the first minute of stoppage time when substitute Paulo Henrique pounced on a lose ball after a shot cannoned off a PAOK defender.
Despite this blow, the Thessaloniki side came out in search of an equalizer in the second half and got it in the 54th minute through Vladimir Ivic who headed home a cross from Vieirinha.

Fernando Santos’s men had some good chances to win the game. Ivic and Lucio Filomeno were guilty of bad misses.

In the closing minutes, PAOK almost paid the price when Costas Chalkias just managed to claw away a long range shot from Gerald Sibon.

The tie is now delicately poised for the return leg in Holland next Thursday.