MORE MISERY FOR MOYES
ROUND OF 16, 1ST LEG
(Alejandro Dominguez 38, Joel Campbell 54)
MAN UNITED 0
Manchester United were shunted towards an unscheduled exit in the Champions League after crashing to a shock 2-0 defeat by Olympiakos in their last-16, first-leg match this morning (Singapore time).
Goals from Alejandro Dominguez and Arsenal loanee Joel Campbell gave Olympiakos victory at a raucous Karaiskakis Stadium, leaving the Greek champions on the brink of the last eight for the first time since 1999.
It was the first time United had ever lost to a Greek team, but their error-prone display was fully in keeping with a season in which the self-belief of the Sir Alex Ferguson era has thoroughly abandoned them.
Previously unbeaten in the group phase, David Moyes's side conceded defeat with a whimper on a chastening night in the Athenian port of Piraeus, failing to muster a single shot on target.
Eleven points off fourth-placed Liverpool in the Premier League, their hopes of playing in next season's Champions League were already fading, and they now face a fight to stay alive in this season's competition in the return leg on March 19.
Olympiakos coach Michel had wondered in his pre-match press conference whether United's players would feel "burdened" by expectation and, in the opening stages, his side were happy to let the visitors make problems for themselves.
A sloppy pass from Rio Ferdinand gave Hernan Perez a free run down the left flank and, although that came to nought, moments later Nemanja Vidic had to launch himself into a last-ditch block after an untimely slip by Chris Smalling enabled Dominguez to drive into the United box.
Perez then slammed a shot into the side-netting after leaving Smalling in his wake and, with a wayward Tom Cleverley shot the best United could muster in reply, the hosts' 38th-minute opener came as little surprise.
Campbell's cross from the right was only partially cleared and, although Giannis Maniatis's low shot appeared to be heading straight at United goalkeeper David de Gea, Dominguez's opportunistic flick sent the ball skidding into the opposite corner.
It was the first time United had gone behind in this season's competition, and there was worse to come.
Kostas Manolas headed a Wayne Rooney free-kick narrowly over his own bar before half-time, but Olympiakos were the first side to threaten in the second half, with Perez testing de Gea from 20 metres.
Despite United's need, the English champions were unable to establish a foothold in the opposition's half and, in the 54th minute, they found themselves 2-0 down.
It was a goal that shone with the invention that United had been missing, as Campbell picked up the ball on the right, insouciantly nutmegged Michael Carrick, and arced a 25-metre shot into the bottom-left corner with his left foot.
The goal drew a disbelieving roar from the home support and, within moments, Moyes reacted by introducing Shinji Kagawa and Danny Welbeck in place of Cleverley and Antonio Valencia.
But still Olympiakos attacked, with Michael Olaitan lashing a snapshot narrowly over and, when a presentable chance finally fell to Robin van Persie in the 82nd minute, he blasted wastefully into the stands.
Carrick: We're not out of the tie
Midfielder Michael Carrick admitted that Manchester United were left with a tough task to stay alive in the Champions League after a shock 2-0 last-16, first-leg defeat by Olympiakos this morning (Singapore time).
Alejandro Dominguez and Joel Campbell scored in either half to complete a miserable night for David Moyes' under-pressure side.
Carrick (below) put on a brave face afterwards, suggesting United can still progress when the last-16 tie moves to Manchester, but admitted the Greek side were in "a great position".
"It's hugely disappointing, but we feel like we're still in with a chance going back to Old Trafford," Carrick told Sky Sports 2.
"Obviously it's not going to be easy.
"We've lost a game we came here hoping to win and haven't done that.
"We're not out of tie by all means, but it's not ideal."
Asked what went wrong, Carrick added: "I'm not sure. We had good possession in the first half.
"We had control of the game without penetrating their line but, at the same time, they weren't causing us any problems.
"The goals came from nothing, but it obviously puts them in a great position.
"We didn't start the second half very well. A bit sloppy really."
Robin van Persie missed a glorious late chance to snatch an away goal, but Carrick did not want to aportion blame.
"You can't blame Robin; he's created his chance and nearly scored," he said.
"As players, we have to stand up and take it on the chin.
"That's the business we're in. You take the good times and the bad times. We have to keep trying.
"You're looking for me to blame someone.
"As players, we haven't been getting good results and as a club that's everyone involved.
"That's how we are judged." - PA Sport.
HOW THE RED DEVILS FARED
DAVID DE GEA - 5/10
Wrong-footed for first goal. Could do little about the second.
CHRIS SMALLING - 4
Slipped on a number of occasions. Was supposed to offer more security than Rafael da Silva but he was casual on the ball and lost the ability to tackle.
RIO FERDINAND - 5
His lack of pace was exposed again.
NEMANJA VIDIC - 7
The only United defender to stand up. Put in a couple of crucial challenges on his 50th Champions League appearance. PATRICE EVRA - 5 Booked for early hand ball. Sloppy error in run-up to Olympiakos' first goal.
TOM CLEVERLEY - 4
Another game where the England midfielder went AWOL. Did well to last an hour before being replaced. MICHAEL CARRICK - 5
Failed to dictate the tempo as Moyes would have liked and offered little defensive security. ASHLEY YOUNG - 4 Puzzling choice ahead of Adnan Januzaj. Barely featured. WAYNE ROONEY - 5
Marked out of the game. Spent as much time in his own half as he did in the opposition's.
ANTONIO VALENCIA - 4
Couple of telling tackles, but did nothing to help the United attack.
ROBIN VAN PERSIE - 5
A shadow of the player who went into the match in form.
SHINJI KAGAWA - 5
Provided energy but nothing else.
DANNY WELBECK - 5
Exactly the same as Kagawa.
- PA Sport.