PIRAEUS, Greece (AFP) – Kostas Mitroglou banished memories of his ill-fated move to English side Fulham with a fine goal on Tuesday to help Olympiakos to a thrilling 3-2 victory over last season’s beaten Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid.
The 26-year-old, who earned a multi-million pound move to Fulham in January on the back of a steady stream of goals for the Greek champions only to return to Greece on loan this summer, rounded off an impressive showing by the hosts in their opening Group A game against the Spanish champions.
Atletico began their European campaign in defeat, having gone all the way to last season’s final without losing a single match before their final defeat to city rivals Real in Lisbon.
Jan Oblak hadn’t played since his US$20.7m move from Benfica in the close season and the 21-year-old Slovenian goalkeeper had a nightmare debut as he conceded two goals in the first 31 minutes.
First the Atletico defence allowed the Greek side far too much space and Ibrahim Afellay teed up 20-year-old French defender Arthur Masuaku, the former Valenciennes man sending a superb shot past Oblak in the 13th minute.
Atletico dominated for the next 20 minutes and went close on several occasions, including from two headers by Mario Mandzukic, who received a bleeding nose in an aerial challenge earlier in the half, and one from Raul Garcia.
However, it was the hosts who scored just after the half-hour mark as a wonderful dummy by Mitroglou completely confused the Atletico defence and former Barcelona winger Afellay was on hand to tuck the ball home.
The visitors, though, hit back in the 38th minute as Mandzukic beat former French international defender Eric Abidal to a cross and headed past Roberto, the hosts’ former Atletico goalkeeper.
The second half was also an open affair with Roberto making a good save from Cristian Ansaldi and Mitroglou should have done better when found unmarked by the impressive 33-year-old Argentinian Chori Dominguez.
Atletico decided another striker was required to partner Mandzukic up front and took off skipper Gabi, sending on French international Antoine Griezmann with just over half an hour remaining.
However, the Greek side had the bit between their teeth and deservedly added another with 16 minutes to the final whistle with a goal created and scored by former Fulham players as Pajtim Kasami did superbly well to set up Mitroglou and he provided an equally fine finish.
Atletico kept on plugging away and Griezmann set up a frenetic final four minutes as he converted Koke’s cross.