Manchester United’s troubled season took another turn for the worse on Tuesday as David Moyes’ side slumped to a 2-0 first leg defeat to Olympiakos in the last 16 of the Champions League. Moyes described the match as “the worst performance in Europe” he’d seen from his players, and took full responsibility for the result.
Argentine striker Alejandro Dominguez broke the deadlock at Karaiskaki Stadium when he got his foot to a shot from Yiannis Maniatis in the 38th minute and turned the ball past goalkeeper David de Gea.
First-half composure from the visitors soon turned to complacency after the break when striker Joel Campbell, on loan from United’s Premier League rival Arsenal, caught De Gea off guard with a well-placed shot in the 55th minute.
Wayne Rooney produced no threat up front and strike partner Robin van Persie missed the visitors’ only clear chance — a shot over the crossbar in the 82nd minute — as United slipped to its first defeat in the Champions League this season.
“It was a very poor performance, and we didn’t deserve to get anything. To a man there was nothing,” Moyes said.
“I’m just surprised. I just didn’t see that level of performance coming. We didn’t offer enough on the night to create any goals.”
Olympiakos coach Michel Gonzalez played down the implications of the result, saying that 2-0 wasn’t a big enough margin to give an advantage in terms of qualifying.
“I will never say anything bad about Manchester United, because I have such great respect for them. The players know that we still have more to do,” Gonzalez said.
“But I can’t hide it. I am very happy. It’s the players I’m so proud of … to get this result against a team of this caliber.”
Runaway leaders in the Greek league, Olympiakos fielded its untested strikers after the sale last month of Kostas Mitroglou. But the hosts threatened early with Dominguez nearly grabbing a goal in the eighth minute, stopped only by a last-ditch tackle from Nemanja Vidic.
Moyes brought on Danny Wellbeck and Shinji Kagawa in the second half but they made little impact, while Olympiakos nearly made it 3-0 in 67th but Michael Olaitan failed to finish.
Premier League champions last season under Alex Ferguson, United is currently sixth in the domestic standings — 15 points adrift of leader Chelsea. It also made an early exit from the FA Cup at the hands of Swansea.
Dortmund’s opening blitz
Borussia Dortmund struck twice in the first five minutes and Robert Lewandowski grabbed a second-half double as last season’s Champions League runners-up won 4-2 at Zenit St Petersburg in their last 16, first-leg tie on Tuesday.
Dortmund got off to a flying start when Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus scored two quickfire goals to stun Zenit, who were playing their first competitive game since the two-month winter break.
A dramatic second-half spell saw four goals in 14 minutes as Oleg Shatov and Hulk, with a penalty, scored for Zenit and Lewandowski quickly replied each time for the visitors.
Zenit, who are trying to reach the quarter-finals for the first time, were left with an almost impossible task of having to score at least three goals in the return on March 19.
Zenit were quickly in trouble as Reus burst into the area and, although he stumbled, the ball ran kindly to Mkhitaryan and the Armenian fired the ball past Yuri Lodygin.
The Zenit goalkeeper had to pick the ball out of his net again 70 seconds later after Mkhitaryan burst down the right and found Kevin Grosskreutz who laid the ball off for Reus to score with a clinical first-time finish.
Zenit were penned back in their own half and their problems mounted when midfielder Andrey Arshavin went off injured and was replaced by Anatoliy Tymoshchuk.
Dortmund began the second half on the attack as their Poland striker Lewandowski had a powerful shot turned around the post by Lodygin.
The Russians reduced the deficit in the 57th minute with a scrambled goal when Oleg Shatov fired home from the rebound after Jose Salomon Rondon had one effort headed away and then hit the post.
Lewandowski restored Dortmund’s two-goal advantage four minutes later after combining with compatriot Lukasz Piszczek in a counter-attack down the right.
Hulk pulled another back for the hosts with a controversial penalty in the 69th minute, awarded after Viktor Fayzulin dribbled into the area and collided with Piszczek.
But Zenit gifted Dortmund another goal when Tymoshchuk was dispossessed in his own half by Reus, who slipped the ball through for Lewandowski to score with a low, angled shot.