By: Peter Katsiris
Although Ernesto Valverde’s men already clinched their 38th league title in history two weeks ago against AEK Athens FC, Olympiacos FC were determined to keep their invincible home record intact as the Erythrolefki hosted FC Kavala at the Giorgos Karaiskakis Stadium on Sunday.
A rush of madness in the second half would ensure the league winners remained unbeatable –and even “undrawable” – at home as Olympiacos emerged 3-1 winners.
A trio of goals in nine minutes allowed the hosts to turn the match on its head as Raffik Djebbour and Kevin Mirallas tallied after Kavala’s Marius Niculae cancelled out David Fuster’s opener.
Olympiacos enjoyed the lion’s share of possession through the first half-hour as the home side limited Kavala to their own end through the first 30 minutes. Despite the loads of possession, the Olympiacos offense was somewhat stymied by the Kavala defense and ‘keeper Mario Galinovic.
Mirallas was the most active of the Olympiacos attackers with three quality chances to beat Galinovic. But each time the Belgian winger searched for the far corner of the net, his efforts were just slightly misplaced as they trickled inches wide of the goal.
At the other end, Balaszs Megyeri enjoyed a quiet start to his first-ever competitive appearance for Olympiacos. The Hungarian was given some playing time and Urko Pardo the night off as Valverde weighed his options in goal ahead of the summer transfer window.
Perhaps the only meaningful bit of action for Kavala came in the dying moments of the first half when the visitors’ penalty claims were silenced by the referee who waved play on after it appeared Moises Hurtado handled the ball in his own box.
Despite the controversy, the match remained 0-0 heading into the second frame, but the deadlock would last for only 13 minutes after the restart.
Once again it was Mirallas who was causing all sorts of headaches for the Kavala defense, and even with two markers guarding the Belgian international, he was still able to provide a sublime pass for Jose Holebas as the German surged towards the Kavala net. Appearing to lose control of the ball, Holebas did just enough to keep the ball inbounds before poking a pass over to Fuster, who calmly tapped-in the breakthrough on 58 minutes.
The Olympiacos lead would last just five minutes though as Niculae drew the visitors level with a fine header past Megyeri. A pinpoint corner from Lionel Rios found Niculae unmarked inside the box and the Romanian had no probably converting the set-piece to give life back to Kavala.
The Argonaut’s effort, although admirable, were not convincing enough as Olympiacos reclaimed their lead just two minutes later as Djebbour provided his own aerial effort. A sharp pass from winter signing Giannis Maniatis found Djebbour unmarked inside the box and the Algerian made no mistake as he buried his header past stunned Galinovic.
The entire Kavala bench was stunned just two minutes later as Mirallas made it 3-1 Fuster turned from scorer to provider as he fed Mirallas a brilliant through pass, allowing the on-loan AS Saint-Etienne star to run onto the pass with great speed before rounding Galinovic and providing the knockout blow into the empty net.
With all three points all but confirmed, substitutes looked to show their worth and increase their side’s commanding lead. ioannis Fetfatzidis was one of the notable second half substitutes keen on leaving his mark of the game, and even though the Greek youngster is more known for his passing game the starlet looked to scratch his name on the scoreboard with two quality cracks at goal – both, however, were stopped by Galinovic.
Kavala’s Croatian custodian wouldn’t let in another, nor would Megyeri as he grabbed his first win for the Erythrolefki on a night when all the scoring was done in a quick 9 minutes. The win means Olympiacos remain invincible at home this season and that their lead atop the table is a remarkable 13 points with two matches left. The Champions face Atromitos FC in Peristeri next weekend, in a match that due or die implications for the hosts.
Kavala’s dreams of reaching the Greek Super League playoffs are just about dead after they slumped to yet another defeat – news that only makes things worse after Olympiacos Volou FC beat Skoda Xanthi FC 3-0 on Sunday. The Argonauts will host Xanthi next weekend, hoping to end a slump that has dropped Ioannis Matzourakis’ men out of the play-off race and six points back of fifth-placed Olympiacos Volou.
Olympiacos FC 3-1 FC Kavala
Fuster 58’, Djebbour 65’, Mirallas 67’ – Niculae 63’
Olympiacos FC – none
FC Kavala – none
Olympiacos FC (Ernesto Valverde): Megyeri, Maniatis, Modesto, Mellberg, Holebas, Hurtado, Dudu (C), Mirallas, Riera (83’ Raul Bravo), Fuster (76’ Fetfatzidis), Djebbour (68’ Zairi).
FC Kavala (Ioannis Matzourakis): Galinovic, Tomasic, Pfertzel (76’ Pereirinha), Rios (68’ Vucicevic), Ducroq, Niculae (81’ Ogbeche), Hrgovic, Die (C), Onwuachi, Theodorelis, Abdoun.
Referee: Anastasios Sidiropoulos
Venue: Giorgos Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus
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