Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Olympiakos beat Montpellier in Champions League

Montpellier: Greece striker Kostas Mitroglou scored in injury time as Olympiakos came from behind to beat struggling French champion Montpellier 2-1 in the Champions League on Wednesday. Gaetan Charbonnier's first Champions League goal was not enough for the hosts, with Greece defender Vassilis Torosidis equalizing in the 73rd with his team's first shot on target. Mitroglou then pounced one minute into stoppage time for the victory.
Olympiakos now has three points to keep alive its hopes of qualifying from Group B. Montpellier, which is only a point above the relegation zone in the French league, is last with one point in the group. "For us, these three points are like gold. They are a huge confidence boost," Olympiakos midfielder Giannis Maniatis said. "They will revive our European campaign and we are back on track to fight for qualification."
Montpellier coach Rene Girard was banned from the dugout and fined for directing an obscene hand gesture at the Schalke bench after the teams drew 2-2 three weeks ago. The draw in Germany was one of the better performances in a disappointing season for Montpellier, which has failed to replace the goals scored by Olivier Giroud, last season's top scorer, since selling him to Arsenal.
Charbonnier, who joined in the offseason from second-division club Angers to replace Giroud, scored in the 49th with a sweetly hit shot from the edge of the penalty area that flew past former Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll. "We had the chances and got the goal in the second half, but they came back," Montpellier defender Vitorino Hilton said. "It was a relapse that cost us. It's tough to take. Our game was good except for the score, but that's what counts and it's not good enough."
Montpellier dominated possession in the first half, with highly rated midfielder Younes Belhanda showing the kind of form that drew the attention of some of Europe's leading clubs last season. Belhanda just missed the target early on with a powerful drive after cutting in on his right foot in the eighth minute, and moments later Belhanda worked a quick free kick with winger Anthony Mounier, who blazed the ball over.
Belhanda had another shot deflected and Charbonnier saw his shot parried by Carroll as Montpellier poured forward. But the visitors almost struck midway through the first half when forward Paulo Machado fluffed a decent chance following good work from Leandro Greco. Striker Rafik Djebbour missed a great chance to equalize in the 55th when Francois Modesto curled in a ball from the left and Djebbour failed to test goalie Laurent Pionnier — who was replacing Geoffrey Jourdren after he was dropped for criticising Girard's team tactics three weeks ago.
Belhanda twice went close as the home side pressed for a second goal, but Montpellier was caught cold in the 73rd when Torosidis dragged a high ball down and poked it past Pionnier. "Congratulations to the whole squad and to our fans, they deserve this win," Olympiakos defender Costas Manolas said. "It was a very tough match, but we put the effort in and managed to win."

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