Substitute Thorstein Helstad's late equaliser denied ten-man Olympiacos CFP a first-ever away win in the UEFA Champions League and allowed Rosenborg BK to secure third position in Group F in dramatic fashion.
Helstad struck with two minutes remaining after Rivaldo had seemingly set Olympiacos on course for a first victory outside Greece in 28 attempts midway through the first half. His tardy intervention earned the hosts the point they needed to guarantee entry to the UEFA Cup, and came moments after Anastasios Pantos had been sent off for the visitors and Vidar Riseth's resulting penalty was saved.
The game was Rosenborg's first since their Matchday 4 defeat by Real Madrid CF on 1 November, and coach Per-Mathias Høgmo fielded the same side that lost that match 2-0. Meanwhile, Olympiacos were without Grigorios Georgatos who picked up a knock in the weekend victory against Atromitos FC, although Yaya Touré returned from a foot injury to take his place in central midfield.
In difficult conditions on a heavy pitch, Olympiacos - whose previous 27 away matches in the competition had yielded 23 defeats and four draws - made the better start, Nigerian forward Haruna Babangida dragging a shot wide three minutes in. However, the visitors were given a scare when Riseth wasted the first of two early free headers that would come Rosenborg's way.
While Olympiacos were slowly gaining the initiative, their opponents were left to rue their luck as first Per Ciljan Skjelbred and then inspirational captain Roar Strand were forced off through injury. Amid this confusion, the Greek champions went close twice, Erol Bulut seeing an effort saved at the near post and Georgios Anatolakis nodding wide after escaping his marker to meet a beautifully-flighted Rivaldo free-kick.
It was the Brazilian, making his 66th UEFA Champions League appearance, who gave Olympiacos the lead on 25 minutes, sending an unstoppable left-footed drive beyond the despairing dive of Espen Johnsen having found himself in space 20 metres out. Once in front Olympiacos began to control the tempo and could have doubled their advantage just before the break when a careless back-heel from Fredrik Winsnes only found Touré, whose blistering strike was palmed over by the Rosenborg goalkeeper.
Espen Johnsen was called into action again early in the second half, denying Touré by somehow getting a hand to a free-kick that looked bound for the top corner. Following that escape, Rosenborg hinted at the equaliser, Frode Johnsen directing a header just wide at the back post. The Norwegian outfit were beginning to build momentum at last and in the space of two minutes came agonisingly close to scoring, both times through Mikael Dorsin. First the right-back saw a low shot squirm through Antonios Nikopolidis's hands but trickle wide. Then, after Olympiacos failed to clear a high cross, Dorsin shot wide from only two metres.
It seemed Rosenborg had squandered their best opportunity of an equaliser five minutes from time, however. Riseth's spot-kick was saved by Nikopolidis diving to his left after Pantos had been penalised for holding back Frode Johnsen. Riseth's blushes were spared, though, as Helstad latched on to a Dorsin through-ball to stab past the Olympiacos custodian and keep his side in continental competition until the spring.