Champions League

With goalkeeping heroics, Olympiakos holds Barcelona

2017-11-01 08:13
Silvio Proto (Twitter)

Greece - Olympiakos held Barcelona to surprise 0-0 draw in the Champions League, denying the visitors early qualification to the round of 16 from Group D.

Lionel Messi was stopped five times by goalkeeper Silvio Proto as the Catalans dropped their first points in four matches.

The Greek champions, playing after three straight defeats in the Champions League, defended with real determination but could little with their counterattacks as they settled for a point against a Barcelona side under their former coach Ernesto Valverde.

"Our aim was to win tonight and we had plenty of chances. It didn't happen," Valverde said.

"Olympiakos was excellent defensively and their fans were tireless. I'm happy with my players. What counts is creating chances, if we do that the goals will come."

He thanked Greek fans for their warm reception, but added: "I got used to having the (Olympiakos) fans helping my players. Tonight they were opposing them."

Barcelona top Group D with 10 points, three more than second-place Juventus, who drew 1-1 at Sporting Lisbon (four points).

Olympiakos captain Alberto Botia was a standout as a sweeper for the hosts as they came out second-half with the intent of keeping the La Liga giants at bay.

Proto stopped three shots from Messi in the first-half, and kept up his heroics in the second stanza, saving a shot goal bound strike from Uruguayan Luis Suarez in 72nd minute.

Eight minutes later a lob from Suarez bounced off the crossbar to Proto's relief.

The Belgian 'keeper punched away a free kick from Messi two minutes before the end of regular time and again dived to block a powerful effort by the Argentine in injury time.

"It was hard work, but a good result, what we have to do now is keep fighting hard," Olympiakos midfielder Panagiotis Tachtsidis said.

Read more on:    olympiakos  |  barcelona  |  champions league  |  soccer
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