Olympiacos 1-0 AZ Alkmaar: Torosidis Heads Home Winner For The Greeks

Olympiacos

It wasn’t pretty but Olympiacos eventually emerged winners in Greece thanks to a late goal from Vasilis Torosidis.

Vasilis Torosidis broke the deadlock with a header ten minutes before time, and Olympiacos held on for a slim 1-0 win over Alkmaar to take full points in their Group H fixture in Piraeus.   

Having fired manager Temuri Ketsbaia on the eve of the match, and then suffering a blow through an injury to playmaker Luciano Galletti, Olympiacos were tipped to be a vulnerable outfit come kick-off; however, the home side proved they were more than capable as they got their group-stage campaign rolling in the right direction with maximum points on matchday one in Group H.   

Alkmaar, meanwhile, will be disappointed with their performance. The Dutch Champions found it hard to mobilise in attack, despite the late inclusion of domestic leading scorer Mounir El Hamdaoui – the Moroccan not a factor on this night.   

The Greek Champions, backed by an energetic crowd, started out brightly; immediately pushing forward on their first possession, but Leonardo’s cross into the box was intercepted by Alkmaar ‘keeper Sergio Romero.   

With the Karaiskaki crowd immediately jeering the visitors, Alkmaar was keen to silence the supporters early on. Long spells of possession soon converted into the first scoring opportunity of the match, and with a burst down the right flank Moussa Dembele’s cross should have been tapped in but instead bounced off Brett Holman’s thigh and over the empty Olympiacos net on nine minutes.  

Hungry for a goal, Olympiacos began to break free down the right flank, first through Vasilis Torosidis who picked out Diogo with his towering cross, but the Brazilian couldn’t angle his effort on goal.   

Leonardo came a little closer when his left foot got on the end of a cross from Jaouad Zairi, but again the effort trickled wide of the Alkmaar goal.   
As Olympiacos continued to favour one side of the pitch, Alkmaar were keen on another with Dembele leading the charge again just before the half hour mark. The Belgian again looking to find an opening in the Olympiacos defense, but a lack of chemistry with his team-mates foiled the chance.   

Zairi, meanwhile, led another charge down at the other end, but the Moroccan’s cross for Diogo again went to waste as the ball ultimately ended up trickling wide of Romero’s goal. 

Both sides were surely ruing their missed opportunities and wasteful passes in the midfield as both teams headed into the interval deadlocked at 0-0.   

When play did resume after the restart chatter around Karaiskaki featured the revelation that Brazilian Legend Zico had been announced as the club’s new manager. 

Olympiacos, however, were keen to change the topic but Vasilis Torosidis’ early chance was whistled down as offside, while corners continued to be a non-factor thanks to tight defending from Alkmaar.   

Not discouraged by this, Olympiacos continued to push forward and looked have a breakthrough in their sights when a clever play between Zairi and Michal Zewlakow set up Dudu nicely; the Brazilian, however, one-timing his effort way high over the bar.   

Not to be outdone, Alkmaar finally notched their first chance of the second frame; a long-distance effort from David Mendes da Silva just propelling over Antonis Nikopolidis’ net.   

Holman was more accurate when he tested Nikopolidis on 72 minutes, but the former Greece international was up to the challenge. Conceding a rebound in the process, Nikopolidis retreated to his goal before Mounir El Hamdaoui arrived on the scene – the Moroccan ultimately denied a look at goal thanks to sharp defending from center-back Olof Mellberg.   
With the introduction of Konstantinos Mitroglou for a tired Diogo, immediately the home fans were given a second wind.   

But when they erupted in celebration on 79 minutes, it wasn’t Mitroglou’s name they were cheering. Instead, Torosidis was made the man of the hour as teh Greece international rose best to a cross from Zairi to beat Romero with a sharp header to the left corner.   

The match had finally seen a goal, and Olympiacos were keen to reinforce their advantage. Holding midfielder Cristian Ledesma may have looked enthusiastic when he emerged in open space, but his effort from outside the box turned out nothing but optimistic as it rolled harmlessly wide of the Alkmaar net.   

Forced to attack, Ronald Koeman shuffled his formation with the introduction of Jeremain Lensm and the Dutchman nearly rewarded his bench-boss but his low shot was ultimately denied by a sharp save from Nikopolidis.   

As the full-time whistle approached, Alkmaar’s pressure in front of goal escalated, but a solid Olympiacos defense held their ground to ensure Olympiacos got their group-stage campaign off the ground with a win on matchday one – a feat never before achieved by the Piraeus giants.

Goal

~ by footballdirecta on September 17, 2009.

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