Olympiacos defeat Fenerbahce on penalties to progress to Conference League semis

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Olympiacos defeat Fenerbahce on penalties to progress to Conference League semis

Olympiacos and Fenerbahce could not be separated for most of the tie
Olympiacos and Fenerbahce could not be separated for most of the tieAFP
Olympiacos held off a spirited comeback from Turkish side Fenerbahçe to move into the UEFA Conference League semi-finals. Olympiacos were 3-0 up after half an hour of the first leg before shipping two goals but, although Irfan Kahveci’s strike secured a 1-0 win on the night for the Turkish team, Thrylos goalkeeper Konstantinos Tzolakis saved three penalties to see his side through.

Noise levels reached fever pitch at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium as the match kicked off, with the home fans eager to remind Olympiacos of their hostility every time they touched the ball.

Still, the Greek outfit held a narrow lead after the first leg and had the game’s first opportunity when Chiquinho tried an attempt from long-range, which sailed over the bar. However, the visitors were always at risk, and it didn’t take long for Fenerbahce to move in front on the night and draw level on aggregate. 

Sebastian Szymanski fed the ball to Irfan Kahveci, who powered home inside the post.

Kahveci's goal was crucial
Kahveci's goal was crucialAFP

 The 28-year-old then nearly gave his side the advantage in the tie for the first time when his mazy dribble and drilled shot was brilliantly saved by Konstantinos Tzolakis. Olympiacos, meanwhile, had their moments throughout the first half, but the hosts nullified any threat with the help of a resolute defence.

While Fener were looking to keep their first home clean sheet in eight games, they very nearly doubled their lead when Edin Dzeko’s looping effort went over the bar. Olympiacos coach Jose Luis Mendilibar had seen enough and brought on Georgios Masouras as an additional attacking threat, and the winger almost made an immediate impact with an effort that sailed narrowly wide.

With extra-time looming, Masouras was then guilty of missing a big chance to put the tie to bed when he raced through, only to see his low shot saved well by home keeper Dominic Livakovic. To the visiting side’s relief, Michy Batshuayi’s goal was ruled out for offside to keep the tie on level terms.

Match stats
Match statsFlashscore

Neither side could finish the tie inside 90 minutes, so an extra 30 were required. Olympiacos went the closest when Vicente Iborra’s header hit the post via the knee of Livakovic, and the visitors finished the game with ten men when Andreas Ntoi received a second yellow card.

Ultimately, spot-kicks were required, and Olympiacos’ 21-year-old goalkeeper Tzolakis was the hero, saving efforts from Dusan Tadic, Cengiz Under and Leonardo Bonucci to send the travelling contingent into raptures. They will now face Aston Villa for a place in the final as they continue their search for a maiden UEFA trophy.

Flashscore Man of the Match: Konstantinos Tzolakis (Olympiacos

See all the math stats here.

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