Olympiakos teach Victory youngsters some lessons
Three down after 25 minutes Melbourne Victory found out what it was like to play against one of the top teams in Europe, Olympiakos Piraeus, the Greek league and cup champion.
To be fair the Victory team was a shadow of that which played for most of the A-League season with only Archie Thompson as a regular starter throughout the year.
The visitor had six players who will be taking part in the European championship next month, five for Greece and Olof Mellberg of Sweden.
So youngsters Lawrence Thomas, Petar Franjic, Diogo Ferriera and Jimmy Jeggo got an opportunity to test themselves against real quality.
In the opening minute or two Victory actually monopolised the ball but Matthew Foschini, playing in an unaccustomed spot in central defence with Petar Franjic, gave the ball away and David Fuster put the chance over the bar.
Victory did not learn from that incident and Olympiakos struck in the 10th minute, rebounding from an attack which broke down with David Fuster running through the defence and round the keeper.
Leigh Broxham set up Danny Allsopp but the big striker lifted his shot over the bar.
In the 23rd minute Belgian international Kevin Mirrallas got away down the left and crossed for Ioannis Fetfaztidis to score with a precise header.
Two minutes later Rafik Djebbour got into a similar position and his driven cross was deflected into his own net by Franjic.
Chose Cholevas brought down Archie Thompson in the penalty area as Victory tried to respond.
The Socceroo striker got up and put away the spot kick efficiently.
Olof Mellberg was booked for a foul on Foschini, but that was no excuse for the latter’s assault on Djebbour which earned him a yellow card in turn.
Lawrence Thomas came off his line quickly to save from Djebbour and at the other end Thompson tried to walk the ball into the net when Victory had three men up in attack.
So half time came with Victory three-one down.
At the interval Ernesto Valverde removed all the Greek internationals, Ioannis Maniatis, Vasilis Torosids, Cholevas, Fetfaztidis and Avraam Papadopoulos, though Melberg and Mirallas remained to test Victory.
Victory came into the game against the revised line-up and Matthew Kemp set up Thompson but the final shot went narrowly past the post.
A couple of minutes later Thompson returned the favour but Kemp was much more wayward.
Kemp and Diogo Ferreira gave way to Sam Gallagher and Julius Davies and later Ange Postecoglou brought on Damir Lokvancic, Paulo Retre and James Reccobeni.
Victory continued to have a better share of possession and chances though the final ball was not precise enough and there were some unforced errors (as well as forced ones) in defence.
Allsopp fired in a free kick which rebounded off the keeper, now former Manchester United stopper, Roy Carroll.
Thompson got the loose ball first but his effort just went wide again.
As the game wound down Davies released Marco Rojas whose inviting cross was pushed past the post from right in front of goal by Lokvancic.
Then in the last minute of normal time, Lawrence Thomas underhit a clearance towards Gallagher and Fuster intercepted and knocked ball over the stranded keeper.
The ball just crossed the line before Foschini could hook it clear.
So it finished four-one but all the youngsters who took part will have learned something about the level they have to reach in future.
Ange Postecoglou said afterwards they would have realised that they would get a chance to play football in that environment provided they did the right thing, but that mistakes would be punished instantly.
‘You might get away with that at youth team where the majority play or even at A-League level, but at this level you don’t,’ he said.
The attendances was 16,879, somewhat disappointing, but understandable given the timing and the quality of the team the Victory was able to field out of season.
As the coach pointed out at a different time of the year the story might have been more favourable to the home team.
Match details (unofficial)
Saturday 19 May 2012
Melbourne Victory 1 (Archie Thompson 28’) Olympiakos 4 (David Fuster 10’ & 89’, Ioannis Fetfaztidis 23’, Peter Franjic, own goal, 25’)
Competition: International friendly
Venue: Etihad Stadium
Local kick-off: 7.30 pm
Referee: Ben Williams
Assistant referees: George Lakrinidis & Shaun Evans
Fourth official: Alex Azcurra
20 Lawrence THOMAS, 2 Matthew FOSCHINI, 3 Adama TRAORE (5 James RECCOBENI 81’), 4 Petar FRANJIC, 6 Leigh BROXHAM (Paulo Retre 76’), 7 Matthew KEMP (15 Sam GALLAGHER 54’), 10 Archie THOMPSON, 11 Marco ROJAS, 13 Diogo FERREIRA (29 Julius DAVIES 54’), 17 Jimmy JEGGO, 18 Danny ALLSOPP (8 Damir LOKVANCIC 76’).
Substitutes not used: 21 Rani DWISHA, 25 Luke O’DEA, 26 Nick ANSELL.
Yellow cards: Matthew Foschini 32’
Red cards: Nil
Coach: Ange Postecoglou
42 Balasz MEGYERI (1 Roy CARROLL 46’ (99 Iosif Daskalakis 77’)), 2 Ioannis MANIATIS ( Francois MODESTO 46’), 4 Olof MELLBERG, 8 Lubomir FEJSA, 10 Rafik DJEBBOUR (87 Diogo SANTO), 18 Ioannis FETFATZIDIS (Djamal ABDOUN 46’), 14 Kevin MIRALLAS, 35 Vasilios TOROSIDIS (31 Pablo ORBAIZ 46’), 21 Avram PAPADOPULOS (Jean MAKOUN 46’), 19 David FUSTER, 20 Chose CHOVELAS (Ioannis POTOURIDIS 46’),
Substitutes not used:
Yellow cards: Olof Mellberg 32’, Pablo Orbaiz 75’.
Red cards: Nil
Coach: Ernesto Valverde.