Olympiacos left it to the 89th minute of their Group D match to score the only goal in their game against Fenerbahce. It is a result that guarantees the Red and Whites a place in the Europa League playoffs with a chance to top the group after log-leaders Eintracht Frankfurt unexpectedly drew 2-2 with Royal Antwerp on Thursday night.
Olympiacos were the more adventurous taking 17 shots on goal with three on target while their Turkish opponents managed just six without any threat on goal.
The goal came from Brazillian centre-forward Tiquinho Soares who received the ball in the penalty area from an Oleg Reabiciuk pass to bury it into the net on his left foot. Soares had come into the game from the bench just 11 minutes earlier to replace the usually lethal Yousouf El-Arabi.
Soares, a former Porto player who joined Olympiacos in May from Chinese team Tianjin TEDA, picked up a yellow car just a minute later.
Fenerbache’s Greek midfielder, Dimitri Pelkas also received a yellow card at the same time.
The first threat on goal came from Fenerbarhce 17 minutes from the start when Irfan Kahveci completed a penetrating set of passes to blast the ball from outside the box, only for it to hit the goal post.
Three minutes later the drama switched to the other end when Reabiciuk provided a peach of pass from the left wing which glided across the Fenerbache goal to land at the feet of Giorgos Mazuras. His shot on goal was blocked by a defender, only for Kenny Lala to shoot the rebounding ball wide off the mark.
Fenerbache’s Mergim Berisha threatened the Red and Whites’ goal with a well taken free kick from outside the box in the 39th minute. He sent the ball just over the top right corner.
In the second half, the Moldovan, Reabiciuk, again delivered a fine pass across the Turkish box to find the feet of Kenny Lala whose shot was just kept out of goal by the outstretched hand of a flying Fenerbahce keeper.
Ten minutes later, another fine Reabiciuk’s pass was finally converted by Soares to bring fans roaring to their feet in the Karaiskaki Stadium.
As things stand, Eintracht Frankfurt still top the group on 11 points with Olympiacos on nine points and a guaranteed place in the playoffs whose dates are still to be decided.
Olympiacos travel to Antwerp for the final match in the group stage of the competition on 10 December. A win against the Royal Antwerp offers the Greek champions chance to top Group D – provided hosts Fenerbahce defeat Eintracht.
READ MORE: Football heartbreak for fans in Piraeus and Thessaloniki
For Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic, it was a night of deep frustration as they squandered the lead in a must-win Europa League match against Group G leaders Bayer Leverkusen. Postecoglou’s charges came out 3-2 losers in the dying minutes of the game at the Bay Arena in Leverkusen.
The German team opened the scoring through Robert Andrich 16 minutes after the start. Celtic responded five minutes before the end of the first half through a Josip Juranovic penalty. Jota gave Celtic the lead in the 56th minute.
The turning point of the game came 20 minutes later, with Celtic’s substitution of Nir Bitton and the usually prolific Kyogo Furuhashi with James McCarthy and Albian Ajeti in a doomed effort to protect the lead.
Postecoglou’s substitutions did not work and Leverkuesen equalised six minutes later through Aldrich and finished the match off when Moussa Diaby scored in the 87th minute. Leverkusen top the table on 13 points with Real Betis on 10 points and Celtic adrift on six points. Ferencvaros lie bottom with no points.
Meanwhile, PAOK drew 0-0 with Slovan Bratislava in their Europa Conference League Group F match at the Tehelné Pole stadium in Slovakian capital.
The group leaders, Copehagen, trashed their Girbraltar hosts, Lincoln Red Imps, 0-4 to maintain their place at the top of the group on 12 points. Slovan Bratislava and PAOK are on eight points with PAOK third with a goal difference of one separating the two teams.
PAOK has a real chance to improve on their goal difference when they host Lincoln Red Imps inThessaloniki for the final match of the Group Stage on 10 December.
AC Omonia of Cyprus secured the second draw in their Group H match away to Qarabag FK in Azerbaijan. The 2-2 result lifted them from the bottom of the table, now occupied by Kairat (Kazakhstan) who lost at home to Basel 2-3.
Basel and Quarbag top the group on 11 points with the Swiss enjoying a slightly better goal difference.
Omonia next host Kairat for their last game of the group stage.