Olympiacos all but sent Montpellier tumbling out of the Champions League with a comfortable 3-1 win in their Group B match in Piraeus.
Paulo Machado put his side ahead inside five minutes with the easiest of tap-ins from close range.
Montpellier equalised after 20 minutes of the second half as Younes Belhanda converted a penalty.
The French champions searched for a vital winner but were pegged back when Leandro Greco took advantage of Belhanda’s woeful defensive header to volley home.
The game was put beyond doubt two minutes later as Jose Holebas ventured down the wing to send a delightful ball into the path of Kostas Mitroglou. The striker watched the ball all the way to half-volley past the helpless Geoffrey Jourdren.
Olympiacos came racing out of the blocks and were in the lead in the opening five minutes as Greco found space down the left-hand side to drill the ball into the penalty area. Mitroglou’s initial effort was turned onto the post by Jourdren but the alert Machado was on hand to roll it into an empty net.
The hosts failed to kick on and seemed content to consolidate the early lead by sitting back and inviting Montpellier into their half.
The usually-dependant Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa was guilty of a number of lapses in concentration at the heart of the French champions’ defence and nearly contributed to further goals.
He initially failed to clear a simple cross into the box, getting the ball stuck under his feet, which allow for Mitroglu to regain possession and shoot at goal from point blank range. Fortunately for the Montpellier captain, his goalkeeper was alert and got down well to his right to beat the ball to safety.
He then attempted to run the ball out of defence but was dispossessed on the edge of his penalty area. The lively Djamel Abdoun ventured towards goal before sliding in Greco on the left of the box. The winger really should have picked up his head to see Machado unmarked at the back post but instead selfishly fizzed a shot wide of the near post.
Despite many decent spells of possession, the visitors rarely tested Roy Carroll in the opening half and the only real chance of any note came from a woeful backpass. Kostas Manolas left the ball short when trying to find his goalkeeper which allowed for Souleymane Camara to challenge the onrushing custodian. Carroll came out on top as he excellently cleared the danger with a well-timed sliding challenge.
The game ebbed and flowed during the opening quarter of an hour of the second half as both teams had chances to score.
Machado dispossessed Jamel Saihi on the halfway line and was able to burst down the wing with Henri Bedimo well out of position. The goal scorer was supported by Mitroglou in the penalty area who had the better of Hilton but didn’t receive the pass until it was too late, much to his annoyance.
Substitute Jonathan Tinhan then could, and perhaps should have pulled his side level just moments after coming on. He gambled at the back post and was first to the loose ball but was unable to slide the ball past the outstretched Carroll.
Three minutes later, Montpellier were level and can be thankful of some excellent work from Souleymane Camara. The striker exhibited strength and skill to control the ball well in the penalty area before being hauled over and awarded a spot-kick which Belhanda converted with ease.
The hero turned villain shortly after, however, as the ever-lively Belhanda failed to clear a corner. Instead he headed the ball straight into the path of Greco who was standing just 12 yards from goal, allowing him to volley expertly into the far corner.
If the game was not over then, it most certainly was two minutes later as Mitroglou put the final nail in Montpellier’s coffin.
The French champions pushed forward in search of an unlikely equaliser and were caught short at the back once again. Attacking full-back Holebas was given the freedom to run down the left. Under no pressure he picked out Mitroglou with a delightful inswinging pass.
The striker, who condemned Montpellier to defeat with a last-minute goal two weeks ago, finished with aplomb at the far post sending the visitors to the brink of exiting Europe’s elite club competition.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Djamel Abdoun – Olympiacos: More often than not at the heart of all that is good about Olympiacos. Showed flare, pace, skill and a willingness to get stuck in and engage in the unattractive side of the game.
Olympiacos: Carroll 6, Maniatis 6, Modesto 5, Paulo Machado 6, Holebas 7, Manolas 6, Torossidis 6, Siovas 5, Greco 6, Abdoun 8, Mitroglou 7. Subs: Lykogiannis 4, Fejsa 4, Fuster 5
Montpellier: Jourdren 5, Yanga-Mbiwa 3, Bocaly 6, Hilton 6, Bedimo 6, Marveaux 5, Belhanda 7, Saihi 5, Cabella 5, Mounier 6, Camara 5. Subs: Congré 5, Tinhan 5, Charbonnier 6