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Nikopolidis frustrates Madrid

Published: Wednesday 7 November 2007, 0.20CET
Olympiacos CFP 0-0 Real Madrid CF
Madrid, who twice hit the woodwork, found Antonios Nikopolidis in fine form as the spoils were shared.
by Graham Wood
from Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium
Published: Wednesday 7 November 2007, 0.20CET

Nikopolidis frustrates Madrid

Olympiacos CFP 0-0 Real Madrid CF
Madrid, who twice hit the woodwork, found Antonios Nikopolidis in fine form as the spoils were shared.

Olympiacos CFP produced a determined display to earn a point against Real Madrid CF as their Group C contest at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium ended in a goalless draw.

Lazio win
Madrid were twice denied by the woodwork and created a string of chances but the group leaders failed to break the resistance of their resolute Greek hosts. Madrid remain unbeaten and on top of a competitive pool with eight points, while Olympiacos stay firmly in contention despite being joined on five points by their next opponents, S.S. Lazio, who won 2-0 home at home to Werder Bremen.

Character
Despite being deprived of four first-team regulars Olympiacos made a confident start, Lomana LuaLua registering the first effort on goal with an audacious overhead kick in the second minute. Sergio Ramos then launched an early raid down the right for Madrid but his shot from distance was well wide. The Olympiacos coach Panagiotis Lemonis had urged his players to show character and his goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis did just that on 13 minutes when diving low to deny Robinho after the Brazilian was sent clear by a typically crisp Wesley Sneijder pass.

Absorbing contest
Next it was Michał Żewłakow who saved the home team with a brilliant last-ditch tackle on Ruud van Nistelrooy six minutes later as Madrid began to dominate. As vulnerable as Olympiacos looked, Darko Kovačević might have given them the lead had he connected with Predrag Djordjević's cross after 21 minutes. The match was by now end to end, and an absorbing contest. Seven minutes later Ieroklis Stoltidis deflected Sneijder's corner on to the post and Madrid came close again on 35 minutes when Sniejder dissected the Greek side's defence to free Van Nistelrooy who cleared Nikopolidis with a deft chip but not the bar and the ball was headed to safety.

Bravo injury
In between those opportunities, LuaLua incurred the wrath of Djordjević when he fired wide when a simple pass to his on-rushing captain was a better option. No one in red and white was keener to impress than Raúl Bravo, and the former Madrid defender signalled his intent with a rasping long-range drive late in the half which fizzed narrowly wide of Iker Casillas's goal. That proved to be the Spaniard's last noteworthy contribution, as he hobbled off in the 53rd minute to make way for debutant Rodrigo Javier Archubi.

Impressive Nikopolidis
The change did not initially affect Olympiacos as LuaLua had a shot blocked and Luciano Galletti miskicked the rebound with Casillas exposed, although Madrid were on top from the hour mark when Van Nistelrooy narrowly failed to connect with a Sneijder free-kick. Still, the home team were not without chances and LuaLua volleyed over on 67 minutes when well placed. Robinho was also guilty of profligacy, although Nikopolidis was the busiest man on the pitch as he repelled Madrid on a number of occasions to keep the scores level.

Last updated: 07/11/07 10.01CET

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