"It is a very tough day for us," said Hernán Pérez, after a 3-0 loss to Panathinaikos FC ended Olympiacos FC's 47-game unbeaten domestic run, delaying title celebrations.
Article top media content
Olympiacos FC's dream of becoming only the second team to win the Greek league undefeated was dashed on Sunday evening – by the only team who have previously achieved that feat, 40 years ago.
Panathinaikos FC prevailed 3-0 over their Athens rivals at Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis, ending Olympiacos's unbeaten season seven matches short of a perfect 34 following 24 wins and two draws. Before Sunday, Olympiacos had won all 13 of their home league fixtures.
Despite the 27 points separating leaders Olympiacos and fourth-placed Panathinaikos before the derby, the Greens were always in control of proceedings with their tight defence and relentless pressing in midfield. "We couldn't play as we planned to, nor did we like the way the match unfolded," Olympiacos coach Míchel said after the final whistle.
The Spanish tactician, whose team would have been crowned champions had they won, suffered his first domestic defeat with Olympiacos, having been on a 47-game unbeaten streak in league and Greek Cup since his February 2013 appointment. "Despite our season going really well, the last thing we wanted was a setback like this one," Míchel said.
"It was a very bad result. Nobody expected it, nobody wanted it. We had prepared for today's match and it's tough to suffer our first league defeat. We were not good, we must acknowledge that we were inferior to our opponents and accept what is. We have to snap out of it and keep on working."
On Sunday, Míchel used the same 11 players he fielded against Manchester United FC last Tuesday, most likely because he thought it wise not to change a winning team. However, four days after that 2-0 UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg triumph, Olympiacos looked tired and devoid of attacking creativity and ideas.
Paraguayan winger Hernán Pérez pointed out: "It is one of those cases that, when something goes wrong, then everything goes wrong. It is a very tough day for us and our fans."
Panathinaikos made the most of Olympiacos's physical and mental fatigue striking twice on the counterattack and netting a third late on from Mehdi Abeid's free-kick. Alejandro Domínguez could have pulled it back to 2-1 in the 79th minute, but missed his spot kick.
Midfielder David Fuster also acknowledged Olympiacos's below-par performance: "We didn't play well but we should look ahead to our next matches and not dwell on this defeat. Starting with our encounter against PAOK next week, we must prove once again that we deserve to win the league."
That is the silver lining presented to Olympiacos, as victory next Sunday would seal a 41st championship with six games to go, standing as they do 19 points clear of FC PAOK and Atromitos FC, who earlier will have hosted Panionios GSS.