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Wednesday, September 29, 2004 

Olympiacos 1 - 0 Liverpool



Olympiacos CFP moved to the top of UEFA Champions League Group A as a first-half goal by Ieroklis Stoltidis was enough to thwart Liverpool FC.

Headed goal
It was Olympiacos's first win against English opposition in more than three decades and a well deserved one as Rivaldo starred in midfield, and it was he that sent in the free-kick from Stoltidis headed the winner. The Greek side were twice denied by the woodwork and even had a string of chances to increase their lead.

Georgatos returns
Olympiacos coach Dusan Bajevic chose to play a 4-4-2 formation and made few changes to the side that earned a goalless draw at RC Deportivo La Coruña a fortnight ago, Anastasios Pantos moving to the left side of defence in place of Stylianos Venetidis while Dimitrios Mavrogenidis played on the right. Bajevic also welcomed back left-winger Grigoris Georgatos and central defender Gabriel Schürrer.

Gerrard missing
Liverpool manager Rafael Benítez played Stephen Warnock in place of Harry Kewell, who has just recovered from a thigh strain, while Dietmar Hamann deputised for the injured Steven Gerrard. However, it was Olympiacos who started the brighter and seized the initiative by dominating the central areas.

Okkas effort
They rattled the visitors after five minutes when Cypriot striker Yiannis Okkas found space inside the penalty area, danced past Sami Hyypiä, and hit the post from close range. The Piraeus club continued to surge forward as Liverpool struggled to find their feet, Milan Baroš often isolated as the lone striker.

Crucial goal
Olympiacos finally took the lead on 17 minutes when midfielder Ieroklis Stoltidis rose above a pack of defenders and headed in Rivaldo's deflected free-kick to the delight of the capacity crowd. They continued to press in attack and came close to doubling their lead on 25 minutes when Rivaldo unleashed a blistering shot from outside the box which went narrowly wide.

Further chance
A further chance arrived ten minutes before the break as Jerzy Dudek's clearance fell to Grigorios Georgatos, a constant threat down the left flank. He crossed to Giovanni, but the Brazilian's close-range header went narrowly wide.

Liverpool response
Olympiacos picked up where they left off in the first half and continued to dominate in the opening stages of the second period Georgatos going close with a left-footed volley on 46 minutes. A troubled Benítez responded by sending on Kewell for Warnock on the left.

Riise disappointment
The English club began to enjoy a larger share of the possession but rarely looked dangerous, a free-kick from Riise was the closest they came to troubling Antonios Nikopolidis in the opening exchanges of the second half.

Olympiacos changes
Bajevic reshuffled his pack on 71 minutes, sending on defender Stylianos Venetidis for Dimitrios Mavrogenidis and midfield player Georgios Georgiadis for Giovanni. A minute later Benítez boosted his forward line by bringing on Djibril Cissé for Josemi as Liverpool attempted to find a way past a solid Olympiacos defence.

More pressure
But it was the home team who continued to create the better chances and Stoltidis nearly scored a second after 75 minutes as his header, from a Rivaldo corner, beat Dudek but hit the crossbar.

No way past Nikopolidis
Benítez's last gamble was to bring on Salif Diao for Hamann in the closing stages but, even with Olympiacos being reduced to ten men following the dismissal of Anastasios Pantos for two yellow cards after 82 minutes, it was not enough to find a way past Nikopolidis. Liverpool are now second in the group, a point behind Olympiacos.

Goal: 17' Stoltidis

Source: Uefa.com

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