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Olympiacos beat Arsenal but bow out

Published: Tuesday 6 December 2011, 23.03CET
Olympiacos FC 3-1 Arsenal FC
The Greek club were on course to join the Group F winners in the last 16 before events in Dortmund consigned them to third place.
by Graham Wood
from Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium

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Published: Tuesday 6 December 2011, 23.03CET

Olympiacos beat Arsenal but bow out

Olympiacos FC 3-1 Arsenal FC
The Greek club were on course to join the Group F winners in the last 16 before events in Dortmund consigned them to third place.

Olympiacos FC produced a stirring display to defeat Group F winners Arsenal 3-1 but bowed out of the UEFA Champions League in dramatic fashion due to events elsewhere.

Two goals up at half-time through Rafik Djebbour and David Fuster, the Greek side were pegged back by Yossi Benayoun's splendid volley before re-establishing their two-goal cushion through François Modesto in the final minute.

With maximum points and a place in the last 16 alongside Arsenal imminent, the celebrations were abruptly halted as news filtered through that Olympique de Marseille had scored twice late on to win 3-2 at Borussia Dortmund, snatch  second place and leave Ernesto Valverde's side in the UEFA Europa League

Arsène Wenger was presented with a plaque by the Olympiacos president beforehand to mark his 200th match in the charge in the competition. His players almost delivered an early present too as, in the eighth minute, Marouane Chamakh surged down the right and crossed for Andrey Arshavin whose low shot was saved by Balázs Megyeri.

Chamakh and Emmanuel Frimpong then passed up similar opportunities, leaving Djebbour to break the deadlock in the 16th minute. The Algerian international latched on to a ricochet off Sébastien Squillaci following Fuster's pass and rounded Arsenal goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański before smartly slotting into the empty net with his left foot as the angle narrowed.

Roared on by a raucous home crowd, Kevin Mirallas flashed a shot just wide after a miscued clearance from Fabiański before the injured Arsenal No1 was replaced by Vito Mannone after colliding with Djebbour. The substitute's first real involvement ended up with him picking the ball out of the net.

Mannone rushed out to make a clearing header and only found Fuster who sent a first-time lob into the net despite the Italian's efforts to keep it out with his raised left foot. The red and whites were full of confidence as the second half began, Olof Mellberg heading wide and Mirallas finding the side netting, only to have that belief knocked by a fine Arsenal goal.

Ignasi Miquel, on for the injured André Santos, sent in a cross which Chamakh knocked down to Benayoun. The danger was minimal but the midfielder finished emphatically to register his first UEFA Champions League goal for almost two years when he wore the colours of Liverpool FC.

Olympiacos were denied qualification by the Anfield club in dramatic fashion in 2004/05, yet the chances of another heart-breaking elimination appeared distant as Modesto tapped in the rebound after Mellberg headed against a post. Marseille, 2-1 down at that stage, changed that with two late goals.

Last updated: 27/11/12 7.54CET

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