Olympiacos CFP's long wait for an away victory in the UEFA Champions League is over after the Greek champions boosted their Group C bid with a 3-1 win at Werder Bremen.
The visitors' run of 31 matches without a success on their travels was one of the competition's most staggering statistics, and it looked set to continue when Hugo Almeida gave the hosts a first-half lead. Panagiotis Lemonis's men raised their game after the interval, however, and following Ieroklis Stoltidis's 73rd-minute leveller, Christos Patsatzoglou rifled in a deflected shot from 30 metres nine minutes later. Substitute Darko Kovačević then capped an evening to remember by turning in a loose ball from close range with three minutes left.
With the whole country celebrating German Unity Day, it was perhaps appropriate that the locals turned out in force at the Weserstadion to give Bremen their backing. To their delight, Torsten Frings was present too, having overcome a knee injury, and Thomas Schaaf's charges began brightly. With in-form striker Boubacar Sanogo confined to the bench, Bremen's Portugal forward Almeida was particularly alert early on and will have been disappinted not to have beaten visiting goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis when one-on-one with the Greek international.
That was after Lomana LuaLua had already tested Christian Vander at the other end, bending in a low shot from the left that the tournament newcomer collected comfortably. To underline Olympiacos's intent, left-back Didier Domi unleashed an attempt soon after with the same result. It had been a frenetic start, and the excitement continued when Raúl Bravo deflected an Almeida effort just wide and Markus Rosenberg headed over.
An injury to Domi calmed matters momentarily – the Frenchman making way for Júlio César – but Luciano Galletti raised the temperature again with a thunderous strike that Vander saved superbly with his legs. Following up, Predrag Djordjević issued Bremen with another warning when he fired over. It was a warning the hosts heeded and shortly after the half-hour they were ahead. Duško Tošić's mis-hit cross from the left was picked up by Daniel Jensen and he scooped the ball across to the far post where Almeida stabbed home. One nearly became two before the break, with Olympiacos having Nikopolidis to thank for doing brilliantly to deny both Rosenberg and Jensen.
Having ended the first half on the back foot, the Piraeus club pushed higher up the pitch after the restart and it took an acrobatic save from Vander to claw away a long-range Galletti pile-driver. He was unable to stop LuaLua burying a rebound in the 65th minute but Bremen were saved by an offside flag. However, the reprieve would be only temporary. Despite Vander's best efforts to keep out a stinging shot from Kovačević, Stoltidis stole in to blast the ball in for the equaliser. The two late strikes from Patsatzoglou and Kovačević then ensured a memorable triumph for Olympiacos who will travel to Real Madrid CF on 24 October as leaders of Group C. For their part, Bremen – still without a point – must rally at home to S.S. Lazio on the same day.