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By Vassiliki Papantonopoulou at Georgios Karaiskakis stadium
Ioannis Okkas's well-taken first-half goal gave Olympiacos CFP a narrow advantage in their UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie against FC Sochaux-Montbéliard.
The Cypriot forward dribbled past two defenders and fired an unstoppable shot past Teddy Richert to give his side their fourth 1-0 win in European competitions this season. He was set up by a superb run by Rivaldo as the Brazilian rolled back the years with an invigorating first-half performance.
Vallas hits post
Olympiacos took charge of the match from the kick-off and demonstrated their intent after just four minutes when Spyridon Vallas hit a shot against Richert's left-hand upright. The visitors looked in disarray at the back and Pantelis Kafes again tested the Sochaux stopper on 21 minutes when he met a well-weighted Rivaldo cross, but Richert saved at full stretch.
Olympiacos coach Dusan Bajevic was forced to field an inexperienced defence with Vallas and Athanasios Kostoulas coming in for suspended duo Gabriel Schürrer and Georgios Anatolakis, while Grigorios Georgatos filled the void of Stylianos Venetidis at left-back and Miloš Maric took the place of injured Georgios Georgiadis in right midfield. The unfamiliar quartet had no teething problems, however, and quickly formed a cohesive unit.
Loan striker Santos and Jérémy Menez were both caught offside as Sochaux threatened to gain a foothold in the match and moments later Okkas broke the deadlock. Santos did manage to break the offside trap five minutes later and should have drawn his side level but was denied by Antonios Nikopolidis on a one-on-one.
It proved Sochaux's last real chance of the half as Olympiacos looked to double their advantage but Georgatos, Rivaldo and the influential Miloš Maric all wasted good opportunities. The Greek outfit began the second half in similar vein, with Djordjevic forcing Richert into an excellent save.
Ieroklis Stoltidis missed a gilt-edged chance on 54 minutes, failing to connect with Rivaldo's superb header across goal. For a time it seemed that Olympiacos would pay for their profligacy as Sochaux came back into the match. Menez and Jaouad Zairi orchestrated much of the turnaround and on 59 minutes Zairi dragged a shot wide with a number of teammates well-placed.
The Moroccan winger was less selfish five minutes later, hitting a right-wing cross towards Santos although the Brazilian failed to make a clean connection with his shot. On 70 minutes, Zairi, who had been doubtful for this match after being involved in a car crash earlier in the week, dribbled past two players before unleashing a powerful shot that was superbly saved by Nikopolidis.
Fearing his side were losing control of the game, Bajevic brought on the defensively-minded Anastasios Pantos and Ioannis Taralidis as his side contented themselves with a one-goal victory. They achieved it but after collecting three single-goal home wins before their elimination from the UEFA Champions League, the Greek side will hope that it is not a bad omen ahead of the return leg in France next Thursday.
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