MATCH REPORTS

United See Off Olympiacos

Given Olympiacos

 

Olympiacos 1: Djordcvic (pen) 16 Georgatos s/o 11, Kostoulas s/o 43

Newcastle Utd 3: Shearer (pen) 12, Robert 34, Kluivert 69

United: Given, Carr, Bramble, O'Brien, Hughes, Dyer (Jenas 60), Butt, Faye (N'Zogbia 84), Robert (Milner 60), Shearer, Kluivert  Subs (not used): Harper, Ameobi, Taylor, Bowyer

Olympiacos: Nikopolidis, Maric, Stoldtidis, Okkas (Giovanni 65), Djordevic (Kafes 77), Schurrer, Mavorogenidis, Kostoulas, Georgatas, Anatolakis, Rivaldo (Pantos 65)  Subs (not used): Giannou, Castillo, Vallas, Filipakos

UNITED were in UEFA Cup action against Olympiacos in the Giorgios Karaskaikis Stadium in Athens Thursday evening.

The Magpies had been warned to face a hostile atmosphere, and from two hours before kick off there were steady streams of Olympiacos fans taking their places in the stadium and placing their flags and banners around the ground.

ANDY O'Brien partnered Titus Bramble in the heart of defence with Jean Alain Boumsong cup-tied, while Lee Bowyer had to make do with a place on the bench as Graeme Souness paired Nicky Butt and Amdy Faye in the engine room.

Olympiacos, as expected, named Rivaldo in their starting line-up after the Brazilian shook off an ankle problem. 

United were sporting their yellow European kit, and there was an electric atmosphere in the stadium when Alan Shearer and Patrick Kluivert got the game underway.

Bramble flattened Rivaldo inside the first minute, and when the striker got to his feet he didn't appear to be too comfortable.

On 11 minutes the game burst into life when Georgatas bundled Dyer over inside the box as he tried to loft the ball over the goalkeeper from Faye's pass. The defender was shown a straight red card and a penalty was awarded, and after a slight delay Shearer stepped up to blast the ball into the net to silence the home crowd.   

But three minutes later Olympiacos were awarded a penalty of their own when O'Brien was adjudged to have pulled at Stoltidis inside the box, and after the defender was booked - much to the disgust of the home crowd who were baying for a red - Djordjevic made no mistake from the spot.

The game was non-stop at this stage, and Mavrogenidis had to clear a Shearer header off the line on 18 minutes when Robert swung in a corner, then Shearer tried to catch the goalkeeper off his line with a long range effort but Nikopolidis made the save.

Carr was booked for a foul on Djordjevic as the winger tried to cut inside on 23 minutes but the free kick from the inside left channel was cleared by The Magpies.

The Spanish referee Arturo Ibanez had his yellow card out again when Kostoulas wiped out Dyer on the right touchline a minute later.

Kluivert had a cross diverted away for a corner on 29 minutes, but Robert's inswinger was overhit and the ball swerved out for a goal kick on the opposite side.

Robert was brought down in full flight by Anatolakis just outside of the dee on 33 minutes, and when Robert picked himself up he sent an absolutely brilliant curler right into the top left hand corner to restore the lead with his fifth goal of the season.

Djordjevic was at the centre of everything for Olympiacos, and powerful drive from him on 36 minutes wasn't too far off target after Rivaldo picked him out.

Robert won another corner on 40 minutes on the United left, but the flag kick came to nothing as Olympiacos eventually regained possession.

A foul by Bramble on Rivaldo was spotted by the linesman on the near side on 42 minuets to give the home side a free kick right on the edge of the box to the right hand side, but when Rivaldo tried to curl one over the wall Robert headed to safety.

Djordjevic appeared to be booked on 43 minutes after a foul on Butt even though the offence was commited by Kostoulas. United's players were quick to tell the referee about the case of mistaken identity, and after realising his mistake he showed Kostoulas a yellow, his second of the match, and then a red to leave the hosts down to nine men.

When a breathtaking half ended the crowd were going absolutely crazy with the Spanish officials, and with 45 minutes to play against nine men, The Magpies were in the driving seat. 

Olympiacos started the second half playing a 4-3-1, with Rivaldo up front on his own, and Kluivert required treatment from physio Paul Ferris two minutes after the restart after taking a knock but he was able to continue after getting attention on the touchline.

Stoltidis fired well off target on 50 minutes from the edge of the box, then in Newcastle's next attack Shearer looped header drifted away after Robert lobbed the ball into the danger area.

With an hour gone, Souness made a double change with Robert and Dyer being replaced by Jenas and Milner.

Olympiacos then made two substitutions on 65 minutes, with Rivaldo being replaced by Pantos and Okkas coming off for Giovanni.

Hughes did well to head for a corner under pressure from Giovanni afetr Djordjevic's free kick from the left side, then at the other end Jenas saw a half volley loop well off target.

On 69 minutes United made it 3-1. Butt played the ball out wide to Milner and he showed great skill to nip past the full back to get to the byeline before squaring the ball into the path of Kluivert who netted with a neat finish.

Several decisions from the referee continued to make the home crowd angry, including a booking for Djordjevic, and Shearer almost rubbed salt into the wound with a low free kick from 25 yards that whistled just wide of the goalkeeper's rigtht hand upright.

Given had hardly been asked to make a save all night, though he was alert enough to punch away under pressure from Schurrer on 78 minutes wehen a deep free kick was lofted into the box.

With six minutes left Charles N'Zogbia was given a run out in place of Amdy Faye.

Milner and Jenas both saw half chances go begging in the closing stages, then the ball just wouldn't drop kindly for Shearer or Kluivert when N'Zobia put the ball into the box a minute from time. 

A foul by Carr on Maric gave Olympiacos a free kick out wide but Given punched clear, then Hughes blocked a shot from Kafes when the ball came back into the box as United secured a two-goal advantage to take into the second leg next week.

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