Todays game comes from a virtually full Karaiskaki Stadium where we face Panserraikos. We have some problems with our midfield with all 3 main central midfielders being missing due to injury or suspension so we have a makeshift lineup in the centre of the pitch. Galitsios also fills in for the suspended Torosidis at right back whilst we also see Fetfatzidis make a start on the right wing.
As for the game itself, we start off brightly and have our first chance on goal in only the second minute with a header at goal just going over the net. Apart from this early chance, we continue with the attacking play and Panserraikos seem unable to make any answers to our dominance in possession and attacking play. Panserraikos do have a lone chance in the 9th minute of play when a miskicked clearance from Pardo goes straight to the opposition but this chance is unique and it is very rare to even see Panserraikos cross the centreline with the ball. Almost immediately at the other end Riera gets lucky with breaking the defensive line but cannot manage to get the ball around the keeper to knock it into the empty net.
After the first fifteen minutes of the game, Panserraikos start to make their own chances and start to come forward although this does now stop us from surging forward whenever we get the chance. Fetfatzidis and Riera both have half-chances to get shots away on goal but unfortunately both fail do so and we have to be content to continue pressuring the Serres defence. At the other end, Panserraikos have a chance to score when Georgiadis receives the ball following Pardo, Mellberg, Bravo and Potourdis all being committed to closing down Serres player Dale. Luckily he misses but it was a close call and we will need to be more aware of chances like this occurring.
We make our first substitution of the game in the 24 minute, with Kevin Mirallas coming off due to a knock which he has picked up and his replacement is Jaouod Zairi.
Although we are attacking in our plays, we are also rushing the ball somewhat and not passing particularly well either. We will need to improve if we are to win today. As if to emphasise my last point, we manage to break into the box with 3 or 4 players then see the ball passed straight to the opposition. Annoying, very annoying.
We are now in the last 15 minutes of the first half and although we are still attacking, Panserraikos have picked themselves up and are now pressing us all over their half. They seem content to soak up the pressure and counter attack when they are able to. This is working fine for us at the minute as we are managing to retain the ball when each attack breaks down. We are still having a lot of trouble in breaking through their defence though and so as we get closer to halftime, the score remains at 0-0. We do have a chance to open the scoring right on the stroke of 45 minutes when Fetfatzidis has a snapshot at the goal with the goalie being caught off the line but shoots it over the net instead. The half finishes almost straight after with only a single minute of added time.
We start the second half off reasonably well making an effort on their goal from a Modesto header almost as soon as the whistle has been blown. We are also denied a penalty when Fetfatzidis is brought down in the box but we are now looking brighter than we did in the first half with four direct shots on goal in three minutes. We do get the goal though with a great individual effort from Marko Pantelic who spins with the ball, losing three(!) defenders attempting to close him down and smacks the ball low into the net to open the scoring. This is followed later by further chances from Fetfatzidis and Riera who both put the ball past the goalmouth. The difference between the end of the first half and the start of the second has been remarkable, we look like totally different sides.
Panserraikos are given a penalty after their player Dale is handled in the box by Potouridis and dragged off the ball. This is converted by Georgiadis (65') and so our earlier work is undone and we find ourselves again having to fight for victory. However, we manage to really blow our chances now with our weak defending and allow the same player Georgiadis to score again after he beats Potouridis and Raul Bravo off the ball in the 67th minute. We make our second substitution of Avraam for Potouridis almost straight away.
We then manage to get the ball into the net from Fetfatzidis after the restart only to have the goal brought back and a penalty handed to Riera for an earlier infringement. In a bizarre twist, Riera does manage to score the goal but I'm not sure if I can truly describe what the hell just happened.
We continue with the attacking play after the various restarts and come close to scoring again through Riera and then through Mellberg before a foul is called in the box giving Panserraikos a breathing space.
As the last fifteen minutes of the game start, we are found en-masse in the Serres box making chances after chance and seeing Panserraikos make some desperate clearances. We get a good chance from Mellberg (header from a corner) before we manage to score what could prove to be the winning goal. Rommedahl (a substitute for Galitsios) breaks into the box from the right and gets to the byeline before making a low pass across the goalmouth in front of their goalkeeper. Pantelic is found waiting at the far end of the goal in order to tap the ball in and scores the days fifth goal. We haven't done as yet though and have a further chance after a foul on Fetfatzidis outside the box. Riera who takes the shot, smacks it into the top of the net, over the flailing goalkeeper and we are now 4-2 up in the 90th minute of the game. The game finishes after three minutes of extra time (and two more chances from us) and we can be happy to see a decent victory today.
The game itself was as the cliche goes, a game of two halves - quite literally. The first half was appalling to watch and yet the second half saw a sublime performance and possibly saw us make about 15 chances on goal in the half alone. Potouridis had a poor game and was responsible for both Serres goals but hopefully he can move on from here.
Olympiakos 4-2 Panserraikos
65' Georgiadis (P)
70' Riera (P)
Olympiakos : Pardo, Galitsios (71' Rommedahl), Mellberg, Potouridis (68' A.Papadopoulos), Bravo, Fuster, Modesto, Fetfatzidis, Mirallas (24' Zairi), Riera, Pantelic
Panserraikos : Radman, Galanopoulos, Kastro, Triandafyllos, Georgiadis, Tadic (82΄Voskopoulos), Dale, Mabene, Anakoglou (89' Anakogloy), Alvarez, Kerla.
Yellow Cards : 40' Modesto, 53' Pantelic
Referee : Charalabidis (Kavala) - Tryfon (Drama), Georgarakos (Athens), Abarkiolis (Macedonia)