Olympiakos 1 Newcastle United 3

Last updated : 05 April 2005 By Footymad
This was six wins in a row for Graeme Souness' side and their 19th away success in 50 European starts away from St James' Park.

Incredibly Greek giants Olympiakos had two players sent off in the first half at the most intimidating and hostile of venues, but could not scare a focused United who won this first leg with strikes from skipper Alan Shearer, yet another majestic Laurent Robert free-kick and the second half icing on the cake from Patrick Kluivert.

Spanish referee Arcuro Idanez was as brave as anyone on the pitch when he showed Grigoris Georgatos a red card after just ten minutes and another just three minutes before the break to Thanassis Kostoulas for two bookable offences.

By the time Kostoulas saw red, United were already 2-1 ahead and well on their way to achieving what Monaco, Liverpool and Deportivo La Coruna could not do in the Champions League this season and get a result at Olympiakos.
Making his 200th United appearance, Kieron Dyer was at the centre of the first main talking point in the tenth minute.

Put clear, the England midfielder was foiled by the legs of goalkeeper Antonios Nikopolidis but recovered and was about to head towards the empty goal when he was barged by Georgatos. The Spanish official then stunned the home crowd by brandishing a straight red.

While the defender meandered from the pitch, skipper Shearer remained the most composed person on the park and drilled the spot-kick high to the keeper's right for his 25th European goal for United.

Not surprisingly it was all square after 16 minutes when the referee awarded a soft penalty against Andy O'Brien for a pull on Ieroklis Stoltidis to level it up. Despite guessing the right way, Shay Given was unable to keep out home skipper Predrag Djordjevic's kick.

Stephen Carr picked up his second booking of the European campaign after 23 minutes and Kostoulas followed three minutes later.

United's pace caused all sorts of problems and one such break ended in them regaining the lead after 34 minutes.

Gabriel Schurrer brought down Robert outside the box. There was only ever going to be one player taking the free-kick and Robert curled the ball around the wall and into the top corner.

Kostoulas received his marching orders for a reckless challenge on the outstanding Nicky Butt and appeared to get away with it, with the referee thinking it was Schurrer until his assistant pointed out the mistaken identity.
Up against nine players United maintained their composure as the furious home fans lit flares and smoke drifted across the playing surface.

With one eye on Sunday's FA Cup tie with Spurs Souness made three second-half substitutions of which James Milner was one.

And it was the 19-year-old who helped Newcastle gain their two-goal cushion with a surging run down the left before pulling the ball back for Kluivert to finish coolly and make it 3-1.

The Greeks head to Tyneside next Wednesday for the second leg and it would be one of the greatest upsets of all time if they are good enough to put the dampener on United's 100th European game.

And it seems certain that Olympiakos will face the wrath of UEFA after the United players were pelted by water bombs as they left the pitch to bask in another night of European glory.