Kostas Mitroglou struck his second goal of this play-off tie with eight minutes remaining as Olympiacos FC sealed a return to the UEFA Champions League group stage with a comfortable victory over Sheriff FC.
Having overcome early nerves the hosts dominated at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, the 2-0 advantage accrued in Moldova six days ago never under threat. It was not until eight minutes from time that Mitroglou eliminated all doubt, however, the Greek Under-21 international – scorer of the second in the first leg – firing in from close range after the unmarked Enzo Maresca had headed Leonardo's deep cross into his path. Olympiacos will therefore take their place in Thursday's group-stage draw after missing out last year; for Sheriff, who struggled in sweltering heat as the match wore on, the UEFA Europa League awaits.
Punished by second-half goals last week, Sheriff drafted Sergio Da Costa and Rustam Tsynya into their back line and the reshuffle almost had a real, if unexpected, impact. With just two minutes gone Andrei Corneencov's floated free-kick was glanced wastefully over by the unmarked Da Costa, yet Olympiacos had been warned: Sheriff were not, as assistant coach Andrey Sosnitski underlined, in Greece "just for the trip". The hosts' response was swift, Michał Żewłakow dropping off his marker to head against the bar from an acute angle, but from the resulting counterattack another gaping hole appeared in Olympiacos's defence. It took the outstretched legs of the alert Antonis Nikopolidis to divert Benjamin Balima's effort wide.
This drew Temuri Ketsbaia into his technical area, renewing his pre-match call for focus. Now his charges listened. And then they attacked. Luciano Galletti's set-pieces were a constant menace, and even on the rare occasions he did not find a red-and-white shirt, Sheriff suffered; Stanislav Namaşco making amends for a poor punch by pushing wide Leonardo's ensuing half-volley midway through the half. Soon to withdraw with a knock, Galletti decided to go it alone soon after the restart, and having weaved in from the right it took a good block from Vazha Tarkhnishvili to keep out his shot. The Sheriff captain was less impressive on 67 minutes when he and Namaşco hesitated as a long pass dropped on the edge of the box. It almost proved fatal, Mitroglou getting a long leg in between them and guiding the ball just wide. The Olympiacos No22 went close again soon after – he would not miss a third chance.
©UEFA.com 1998-2017. All rights reserved.