October 23rd 2002
Olympiakos 2-3 United
Olympiakos in danger
The English side maintained their advantage at the top of Group F and lead second-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who defeated Maccabi Haifa 2-1 in the other match of the section, by six points. Olympiakos – who have still not beaten English opposition for 30 years – travel to Germany next Tuesday in need of three points to stay involved in the competition.
Scholes saves blushes
It looked like the match was all over when Juan Sebastián Verón scored the visitors’ second goal at the Rizoupolis stadium, but manager Sir Alex Ferguson conceded the advantage by bringing off David Beckham and Ryan Giggs for Quinton Fortune and Luke Chadwick. The Greek team took advantage to score twice inside five minutes to level the scores before Paul Scholes sealed victory in the final ten minutes with a thundering strike.
United threatened the opposition goal three times in the first ten minutes: Scholes from distance on six minutes, Blanc with a downward header and the lively Scholes again thundering a dipping volley over the bar. After a sustained spell of pressure, Blanc then headed into the far corner on 21 minutes when left unmarked in the box after Giggs’s corner to open the scoring.
Olympiakos’s best chance to level came just before the break when Stylianos Venetidis’s headed effort sailed just wide, three minutes after Brazilian Giovanni had set him up on the edge of the box only to see the defender blast over. After the break, United were straight back into their stride and Verón made it 2-0 when he took a pass from Giggs and with his right foot sent a raking strike clean into the far corner.
Sir Alex was ready to let United coast, but was made to pay for making the double substitution when Lambros Choutos proved anything can happen in football by firing past Fabien Barthez to pull one back 20 minutes from time. Astonishingly, Djordjevic levelled four minutes later when he stroked past Barthez from the edge of the area with his weaker right foot.
However, with six minutes of normal time remaining, Scholes took the wind from the home side’s sails with the winner after powering an angled shot which goalkeeper Theofanis Eleftheropoulos got a hand to but could not prevent nestling in the top corner.