OLYMPIACOS 2, MAN UNITED 0.
Manchester United’s miserable season continued as it became a Greek tragedy following their latest calamity in this season to forget.
The Reds were mistaken if they believed they would breeze past Olympiacos to claim a quarter-final place in the Champions League in what was perceived as the easiest of the last-16 knockout matches.
It was another disappointing night as United suffered a potentially fatal defeat in the Athens port of Piraeus on the night they made their 250th appearance in Europe’s top club competition.
David Moyes’ men certainly have it all to do as they will need to win by a three-goal margin at Old Trafford next month to guarantee a place in the last eight.
Goals from Troy Dominguez and Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell leave United teetering on the brink of elimination as Olympiacos, who recently lost star striker Kostas Mitroglou to Fulham in an £11million deal, showed why they are 20 points clear at the top of the Greek Superleague.
Olympiacos, who banked £15million from sales in January, were also without Argentinian striker Javier Saviola, one of their marquee players which provided further hope that United ought to have been too strong for the Greeks.
Midfield player Michael Carrick said: “It was a disappointing night to lose the way we did. It is hugely disappointing, but we are still in with a chance, but it is not going to be easy.
“We came hoping to win, and we are not out of it by any means, but it is not ideal. It puts us on the back foot, but we have to look forward to the second leg and we are not out of it at all.”
United received an early let off when Dominguez burst clear only to be denied by a last-gasp tackle by Nemanja Vidic.
They failed to heed the warning as Olympiacos took the lead in the 38th minute, though in fortuitous circumstances.
David De Gea appeared to have covered a shot from Giannis Maniatis only for it to take a wicked deflection off Dominguez to deceive the keeper.
And it got worse 10 minutes into the second period when Olympiacos doubled their advantage through Campbell.
The 21-year-old striker, who will be playing for Costa Rica against England in this summer’s World Cup, nutmegged Michael Carrick before curling a shot around Rio Ferdinand and beyond De Gea’s despairing dive.
Moyes’ response was to sent on Shinji Kagawa and Danny Welbeck after an hour to replace Tom Cleverley and Antonio Valencia.
United’s only chance of the game came after 82 minutes when Robin van Persie ought to have halved the deficit and make the second leg far less daunting.
The Dutchman latched on to a delightful cross from Chris Smalling and cut back before firing over from 12 yards when it looked as though he was certain to score.
It was only in the dying stages that United, who clearly missed the ineligible Juan Mata, began to threaten as the Greeks tired having produced a super-human effort to build a commanding advantage.