Olympiacos FC claimed its 38th league championship with an emphatic 6-0 defeat of AEK Athens FC at the Giorgos Karaiskakis Stadium on Sunday. Rafik Djebbour led the way in scoring for the Erythrolefki with a pair of goals, while Olof Mellberg, David Fuster, Kevin Mirallas, and Jose Holebas all chipped in with one apiece.
With title implications on the line after last weekend’s loss at PAOK FC, the hosts were keen to do their fans proud under the derby circumstances. Meanwhile, AEK’s confidence was riding high following a midweek triumph at PAOK in the Greek Cup, but the Enosi were quickly caught in the middle of a Greek Cup hangover.
Without the services of star defender Traianos Dellas, the AEK defense was rather fragile heading into one of Greece’s best-kept fortresses. In fact, it took Olympiacos just two minutes to carve open the AEK defense as Djebbour took less than 90 seconds to score against his former employers. Francois Modesto did well to redirect an Ariel Ibagaza corner, finding Djebbour unmarked at the back post. The Algerian made no mistake as he buried a header from close range, sparking pandemonium in the stands.
The crowd erupted in celebration just five minutes later as yet another Ibagaza set-piece was turned in by Olof Mellberg. The Swede beat his markers to the ball, which was perfectly played straight-down the middle of the AEK box, in perfect position for the former Juventus FC man to gloriously find a finish past Sebastian Saja.
AEK couldn’t find a response as Manolo Jimenez’s, who were so organized in their midweek defeat of PAOK, were somewhat distraught after the quick Olympiacos raid. Perhaps some of the nerves were calmed when Mirallas looked to put his side 3-0 up, as the Belgian was denied a tally of his own with a fine save by Saja.
Still, with all the pressure coming from Olympiacos, AEK were favourites to concede yet again. Sure enough they did on 20 minutes as Djebbour turned from scorer to provider, picking out team-mate Fuster with a delicately lofted pass down the throat of the AEK defense. It was a count of miscommunication between Saja and his defenders that would allow Fuster an easy route to goal, the Spaniard swiftly toe-poking a finish into the gaping goal.
AEK managed to win back some of the lop-sided possession for the remaining 20 minutes of the first half, but the visitors couldn’t manage a reply in the form of a goal. Even Karaiskaki villain Ignacio Scocco couldn’t produce the heroics he has done on many times in the port city – the Argentine being well-guarded by fill-in left-back Holebas.
Holding firm to their 3-0 lead at halftime, Olympiacos returned to the second frame in search of more. It took a little longer than the first half to find an opening goal in the frame, but on 61’ minutes it was Djebbour again who fuelled celebrations in Piraeus. The Algerian eluded AEK youngster Kostas Manolas with a sharp run inside the AEK box, before firing a viscous curl past Saja at the far post – making it 4-0 after just over an hour played at Karaiskaki.
On a night of goals for the Erythrolefki, leading scoring Mirallas certainly had to get into the action. The Belgian forward was previously kept at bay by Saja’s reflexes, but on 68 minutes there was no stopping the on-loan AS Saint Etienne forward as he raced towards the AEK net leaving his markers flat-footed. Once in a prime position for a shot on goal, Mirallas made no mistake as he beat Saja to the ‘keeper’s short side, scoring his team-leading goal of the season.
Holebas would complete the rout just three minutes later as the German wing-back scored his first goal since joining Olympiacos in the summer, producing a fine finish to the far corner of Saja’s goal. Fending off Nikos Liberopoulos and on-loan Real Madrid CF prospect David Mateos, Holebas fired home a sweet finish to cap a memorable night for the Erythrolefki.
The final whistle confirmed Olympiacos as Champions for the 2010/2011 season, prompting scenes of jubilation in the stands and on the pitch. The win adds a positive note to a score-line associated with tragedy at Olympiacos. The only other time Olympiacos beat AEK this emphatically was during the 1981 season, the same day the Gate 7 disaster occurred – a tragedy that killed 21 supporters as they tried exiting the stadium.
Meanwhile, AEK will need to reassess itself after a nightmare performance against their rivals. With the season for the Dikefale not over just yet, the international break will provide some cover for Jimenez’s men, who now find themselves fighting for a berth in the Super League play-offs.
As the Greek national team prepares for a qualifier against Malta on Saturday and a friendly against Poland four days later, AEK will be looking for a fresh start when they face fellow Greek Cup finalists Atromitos FC in two weeks’ time. Olympiacos could do AEK quite the favour when they host FC Kavala on the same day.
Olympiacos FC 6-0 AEK Athens FC
Djebbour 2’, 61’; Mellberg 7’, Fuster 20’, Mirallas 68’, Holebas 71’
Olympiacos FC – Ibagaza, Djebbour, Holebas, Riera
AEK Athens FC – N/A