Olympiakos Piraeus FC 6-2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Last season's UEFA Champions League finalists Bayer 04 Leverkusen were brought back down to earth with a bump as they were thrashed 6-2 in Athens by Olympiakos Piraeus FC in Group F's opening match.
The home side were magnificent throughout, attacking fearlessly at every opportunity and causing their opponents no end of problems. The striking triumvirate of Giovanni, Stylianos Giannakopoulos and Predrag Djordjevic did the damage, Djordjevic claiming a deserved hat-trick and Giannakopoulos also getting his name on the scoresheet.
Both sides ostensibly lined up in a 4-5-1 formation, but it quickly became obvious that, while Leverkusen intended to leave Oliver Neuville to forage alone up front, Giovanni would enjoy close support from Giannakopoulos on the right and Djordjevic down the left. Olympiakos coach Panagiotis Lemonis's adventurous tactics bore fruit in emphatic fashion.
A pulsating first half ended with the home side deservedly 3-1 in front, Leverkusen having taken the lead somewhat against the run of play. Bernd Schneider, a constant threat down the right, swung a dangerous ball in towards the near post and, under pressure from Oliver Neuville, the luckless home goalkeeper, Dimitrios Eleftheropoulos, fumbled the ball into his own net.
Olympiakos looked vulnerable for the first and only time in the match, and Yildiray Bastürk should have extended the away side's lead, but he allowed Eleftheropoulos to partially redeem himself, firing his shot against the keeper's legs when clean through.
That miss was to prove crucial as the home team soon recovered from the self-inflicted set-back, and deservedly drew level in the 27th minute. Under heavy pressure from Giovanni from a corner, Thomas Kleine could only divert the ball into his own net.
Worse was to follow eleven minutes later, as Giannakopoulos was left with time and space on the right-hand side of the Leverkusen penalty area and made no mistake. The fervent home supporters were sent into further raptures a minute before the interval, when Djordjevic beat both Hanno Balitsch and goalkeeper Frank Juric to Christos Patsatzoglou's right-wing cross to flick the ball in at the near post.
Both teams seemingly came out after the break in a more conservative frame of mind, but further goals seemed inevitable and the game was practically over as a contest in the 64th minute. Djordjevic got ahead of Balitsch in the penalty area and was pulled down, then got up to beat Juric from the spot himself.
He completed his hat-trick nine minutes later, bursting through the middle of the Leverkusen defence to roll a right-foot shot into the corner. Although Schneider salvaged some respectability for Leverkusen with a penalty after Lucio was brought down, Pär Zetterberg's late free-kick for the home side gave the scoreline a more realistic look.
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