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Cautious optimism in Olympiacos ranks

Published: Wednesday 21 October 2009, 15.00CET
Ieroklis Stoltidis says Olympiacos FC are "very close" to securing progress after his late winner against R. Standard de Liège – yet he remains wary of a repeat of their near-miss of five years ago.
by Graham Wood
from Athens
Cautious optimism in Olympiacos ranks
Olympiacos celebrate their opening goal ©Getty Images

Match statistics

OlympiacosStandard

Goals scored2
 
1
Attempts on target11
 
4
Attempts off target6
 
4
Corners10
 
4
Offsides2
 
0
Fouls committed15
 
10
Yellow cards1
 
2
Red cards0
 
0

Standings

Last updated: 03/10/2013 16:21 CET

Legend:

P: Played   
Pts: Points   
 
Published: Wednesday 21 October 2009, 15.00CET

Cautious optimism in Olympiacos ranks

Ieroklis Stoltidis says Olympiacos FC are "very close" to securing progress after his late winner against R. Standard de Liège – yet he remains wary of a repeat of their near-miss of five years ago.

Midfielder Ieroklis Stoltidis believes Olympiacos FC are "very close" to progressing from the UEFA Champions League group stage after his 93rd-minute winner against R. Standard de Liège on Tuesday.

Ultra-important
Stoltidis, in his seventh campaign at Olympiacos, missed much of pre-season through injury but was the key man for Zico's Greek champions at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium – coming off the bench to head in for a last-gasp 2-1 victory. That lifted his side to within a point of Group H leaders Arsenal FC and, crucially, four clear of third-placed AZ Alkmaar and five above Standard, whom they visit on 4 November. "We got an ultra-important victory and, as a result, we stay second in the group," the 34-year-old said. "We are very close to the next stage but we have three more equally important games and it's vital for us to stay focused."

Overwhelming force
Belgian titleholders Standard had opened the scoring through captain Igor De Camargo's composed finish eight minutes before half-time, but Kostas Mitroglou's looping header very quickly restored parity. The Matchday 3 encounter seemed destined for a draw until the third minute of added time when Stoltidis reacted quickest following Luciano Galletti's corner. "Both teams had their chances to win, but we made a massive effort and deservedly took the points," said Stoltidis. "We overwhelmed them in the closing stages and, even before the goal, had several goalscoring opportunities. Of course, we are well on our way but we must stay grounded for the next game at Standard."

Bad experience
Stoltidis banished talk of Olympiacos having one foot in the first knockout round by citing the club's 2004/05 UEFA Champions League campaign. Then, they had looked on course for the last 16 until a late Liverpool FC comeback earned a 3-1 win for the eventual champions at Anfield. "We had a bad experience the year we got ten points but still did not qualify, and that is still in the back our minds," said the former Greek international, who also praised the influence of Zico, appointed as the club's coach last month following the departure of Temuri Ketsbaia. "Certainly, we are learning all the time. He is always explaining what he wants in training and the team seem to be playing better and creating more chances. We are going from being a good side to a much better side."

Last updated: 21/10/09 10.59CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2010/matches/round=2000028/match=2000411/postmatch/quotes/index.html#cautious+optimism+olympiacos+ranks

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