Argentine knocks Monaco hopes

2004-11-04 08:42

Athens - A late goal by Argentinian Gabriel Schurrer dealt a severe blow to Monaco's hopes of returning to the Champions League final here on Wednesday as Olympiakos defeated the French side 1-0 in their Group A clash.

The 33-year-old's goal six minutes from time ensured the Greek giants went top of the group alongside Liverpool, who won 1-0 away at Deportivo La Coruna with Monaco slipping from first to third a point adrift of the top two with two matches remaining.

Schurrer's strike was much deserved as the hosts had done all the attacking in the second-half. Monaco coach Didier Deschamps' promise that he would rely on attack rather than defence failed to materialise.

The hosts had started off forcefully with Monaco unable to clear their half and Flavio Roma was forced into his first save of what promised to be a busy night in the seventh minute from Brazilian great Rivaldo's freekick.

Rivaldo was at his creative best in the 15th minute as he played a wonderful one-two with compatriot Giovanni - their leading scorer with four goals in all competitions - but his volley failed to trouble Silva as it went over the bar.

Monaco rallied with Sierra Leone striker Mohammed Kallon - the visitors' leading scorer in all competitions with nine goals - firing a warning shot at the Greeks when he audaciously lobbed their keeper Antonios Nikopolides but saw it just land on the netting.

Duly encouraged, Monaco attacked with more confidence and Kallon's giant strike partner Emmanuel Adebayor almost gave them the lead with a great volley from Javier Saviola's cross, but the Togolese star's effort went over the bar with the keeper beaten.

Kallon was unstoppable as the Greeks wilted in front of his skills and the former Inter Milan star had the final effort of the half but his long range shot crept wide of the post.

The hosts began the second-half as they had the first searching for the opener and Roma had to be at his best to save from Cypriot striker Ioannis Okkas in the 50th minute.

Monaco thought they had won a penalty shortly afterwards as Saviola went down under a challenge by Dimitrios Mavrogenidis but their appeals were waved away by experienced German referee Markus Merk.

However the visitors got away with blue murder on the hour mark as Giovanni's superb freekick beat Roma but unluckily came back off the bar which perhaps provoked Deschamps in taking off his most effective attacker Kallon and replacing him with the defensive midfielder Pontus Farnerud.

However Giovanni's effort did him little good as he was substituted five minutes later by coach Dusan Bajevic. It mattered little, as Schurrer stole in to shoot past Roma from Georgios Anatolakis's header.