Olympiacos FC are within touching distance of a UEFA Champions League quarter-final place for the first time in 15 years after sailing to a comfortable 2-0 victory against Manchester United FC in Piraeus.
Alejandro Domínguez gave the hosts a deserved lead seven minutes before half-time with a clever flick to divert Giannis Maniatis's shot past the wrong-footed David de Gea. Joel Campbell, on loan from Arsenal FC, doubled the advantage ten minutes after the restart and United never looked like getting back into it. The English champions will need to improve drastically to turn this tie around on 19 March at Old Trafford.
With Kostas Mitroglou joining Fulham FC on 31 January, Olympiacos no longer possess an attacking reference point in the opposition area. Coach Míchel turned that to his side's advantage, encouraging his forward players to drive at United and try their luck from range. It soon appeared an astute approach.
Inside eight minutes Domínguez surged into the box and, with United backing off, the Argentinian playmaker seemed certain to score – only for Nemanja Vidić to come in with an excellent tackle. Hernán Peréz also went for a solo run in the 26th minute, cutting inside from the left and firing a low shot that flew wide of the near post.
United enjoyed possession but not creativity. Olympiacos goalkeeper Roberto and the defensive duo of Kostas Manolas and Iván Marcano dealt with any high balls launched into the area and full-backs Leandro Salino and José Holebas commanded the flanks.
Míchel's plan paid dividends with the interval looming. After Campbell's cross was headed clear, Maniatis collected the ball on the edge of the box. His low strike went through a forest of legs, with Domínguez executing a clever flick to deflect the ball and catch De Gea off-guard.
Olympiacos did not sit on their cushion, instead seeking to extend it and they soon had United reeling as the 21-year-old Campbell picked up a loose ball and, after evading Michael Carrick, sent a delicious curling shot past De Gea. His maiden UEFA Champions League goal could not have been better timed.
David Moyes shuffled his pack, bringing on Danny Welbeck and Shinji Kagawa, but the evening was all about Olympiacos. Michael Olaitan almost made it 3-0 and even when United pushed on in the last ten minutes they lacked composure at the crucial moments. Robin van Persie had the goal at his mercy at one point but, after doing the hard part, speared his attempt over the bar. It summed up United's night.
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