- West Ham suffered their first defeat in 17 European games against Olympiacos
- Lucas Paqueta wonderful volley gave the Hammers hope of an unlikely equaliser
- Listen to the latest episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off!’
Turns out the Greeks do not only smash dinner plates. West Ham’s unbeaten record in Europe was shattered by Olympiacos, leaving David Moyes to pick up the pieces of this defeat in Athens.
Their record of 17 games without losing was added to this city’s long list of ruins by an Olympiacos side energised by a stadium which provided a three-pronged assault on the senses.
You saw the ultras jumping in unison. You heard their nonstop singing. You smelt the smoke as hundreds sucked on their Marlboros in the stands, thoroughly enjoying their first Europa League win of the season at West Ham’s expense.
The visitors knew they were in for an intimidating evening. There were enough graffiti drawings of the grim reaper to warn them outside of the Karaiskakis Stadium. Inside, a tifo as big as a building was revealed showing King Leonidas, depicted by Gerard Butler in the film 300, kicking an enemy down a bottomless black pit to his death. ‘Tonight you dine in Hell,’ it warned them.
Unlike the protagonists in that 2007 flick, there was little Spartan spirit from West Ham here. Only surrender as they helped Olympiacos score their two goals to secure victory, Lucas Paqueta’s vicious volley giving them hope of a late equaliser.
Kostas Fortounis was given the freedom of Athens for his clever finish that opened the scoring
It became 2-0 in first-half stoppage time, courtesy of more dire defending from West Ham
David Moyes’s side fell to their first defeat in 17 games on the continent on Thursday night
It was in the 33rd minute when the football on the field finally matched the atmosphere off it.
Kostas Fortounis was given the freedom of Athens while West Ham’s players did their best impressions of Greek statues, standing still while he turned with the ball.
His method of scoring from 25 yards was unusual – a toe poke – but the power he generated caught Alphonse Areola off guard. Unlike the West Ham anthem, Fortunis was not hiding on this occasion as the Olympiacos captain made it 1-0.
It became 2-0 in first-half stoppage time, courtesy of more dire defending from West Ham. Rodinei crossed and, with a name like that, you might be tempted to label Angelo Ogbonna a plonker for foolishly slicing his attempted clearance into his own net.
They say you need to beware Greeks bearing gifts, but it was West Ham who had given Olympiacos two freebies. Moyes’ men had not lost in Europe since Eintracht Frankfurt in May 2022 but the manager only had himself to blame for this half-time scoreline, having selected a weakened line-up which smacked of Everton in the Premier League on Sunday being his priority.
Lucas Paqueta scored a wonderful volley in the game’s closing stages to give West Ham hope
In the 58th minute, Jarrod Bowen, Paqueta and Michail Antonio were introduced. In the 72nd, Edson Alvarez joined them, and in the 87th, it was 2-1 as Antonio’s cross was headed clear by Quini. Paqueta approached the dropping ball and struck a glorious volley into the goal.
Amid eight minutes of additional time, West Ham wanted a penalty when Antonio was pulled back in the box. Referee Andris Treimanis awarded nothing – it would take a brave man to award a stoppage-time spot-kick at this stadium – and VAR Dennis Higler did not intervene.
With that, West Ham’s unbeaten record in Europe was at an end. It brought back bad memories for Moyes, who lost here with Manchester United in February 2014, a defeat described as the beginning of the end for him at Old Trafford.
The only bonus is West Ham, still top of the Europa League’s Group A, will not have to wait long to exact revenge on Olympiacos in the reverse fixture on November 9.