Sunday 21 December 2014

Hapless United suffer Greek tragedy at Olympiakos

Published 25/02/2014 | 21:54

Manchester United's Antonio Valencia (L) struggles for the ball against Olympiakos'Jose Holebas during their Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match at Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus, near Athens, February 25, 2014.    REUTERS/Yorgos Karahalis (GREECE - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)
Manchester United's Rio Ferdinand (left) struggles for the ball against Olympiakos'Jose Holebas during their Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match at Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus. Photo: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis
Manchester United's coach David Moyes gives instructions to his players. Photo: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis
Manchester United's coach David Moyes reacts during a Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match against Olympiakos at Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus, near Athens. Photo: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis
As Wayne Rooney looks on, Olympiakos' Joel Campbell celebrates after scoring the second goal of his team against Manchester United. Photo: AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney (left) fights for the ball with Olympiakos' Jose Holebas during their Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match at Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus, near Athens. Photo: Reuters/Yorgos Karahalis
Olympiakos' Joel Campbell, center, celebrates after scoring the second goal of his team against Manchester United during their Champions League, round of 16, first leg soccer match at Georgios Karaiskakis stadium, in Piraeus port, near Athens. Photo: AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
Olympiakos' Leandro Salino (left) challenges Manchester United's Ashley Young during their Champions League round of 16 first leg soccer match at Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus, near Athens. Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis
Olympiakos' Joel Campbell celebrates after scoring the second goal of his team against Manchester United during their Champions League, round of 16, first leg soccer match at Georgios Karaiskakis stadium, in Piraeus port, near Athens. Photo: AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis
Olympiakos' Joel Campbell, center, celebrates with his teammates after scoring the second goal against Manchester United during their Champions League, round of 16, first leg soccer match at Georgios Karaiskakis stadium, in Piraeus port, near Athens, on Tuesday. Photo: AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis

A Greek tragedy unfolded for David Moyes in Athens as Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell scored a stunning goal to leave Manchester United on the brink of an early Champions League exit.

Campbell has not kicked a ball for the Gunners since signing in 2011, but he showed superb quality to score the second goal in a relatively straightforward 2-0 victory for Olympiacos.

Alejandro Dominguez's clever backheel put the Greeks ahead in the first half and from then on in Moyes' team rarely looked like being able to get back into the first leg of this last-16 tie.

Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic had talked up United's chances of winning the Champions League in the build-up to the match, but it was easy to see why Moyes' side were 25-1 shots to land the trophy going into this match in the port suburb of the Greek capital.

Rooney worked tirelessly, as he always does, and Vidic put in a solid performance at the back.

But United's midfield, as it has done for much of this season, looked awfully pedestrian for the majority of the match, which was played out amid a booming atmosphere inside the Karaiskakis Stadium.

Olympiacos, who are bidding to make the last eight for only the second time, made a mockery of the away side's billing as favourites.

And without the cup-tied Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj, who was overlooked, United looked toothless in attack.

With United 11 points adrift of the top four in the Premier League, winning the Champions League may be the best way to get back into the competition next year, but they will have to win by three clear goals in the second leg on March 19 to make it through to the quarter-finals after this latest sub-par performance.

Press Association

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