Inspired Roberto shines for Olympiakos

Tue Nov 5, 2013 6:21pm EST
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By Graham Wood

ATHENS (Reuters) - An inspired Roberto gained sweet revenge on former club Benfica by helping Olympiakos Piraeus earn three precious points in a 1-0 Champions League win on Tuesday.

The Spanish goalkeeper, who left Benfica under a cloud in 2011 after just one season, was the difference between the Group C opponents, making a string of superb saves as the Greek champions held on for victory courtesy of Kostas Manolas's first-half header.

"Roberto was something greater than a saint tonight, maybe only the Pope is more saintly," said delighted Olympiakos coach Michel, who ran across the pitch to congratulate his goalkeeper at the final whistle.

"He had a difficult time at Benfica and sometimes football is unjust like that, then at the next minute you are vindicated, and I believe that is the case with Roberto. He proved his worth with his performance tonight, he really was a tower of strength. It has earned him an invitation to my house this week for dinner."

The Greek champions rode their luck against their Portuguese opponents after taking a 13th-minute lead against the run of play when Greece defender Manolas rose unchallenged to power home a header from Jose Holebas's inch-perfect set-piece.

Benfica enjoyed a wealth of possession throughout the match but could not find a way past Roberto.

Within the first eight minutes the Spaniard had denied Oscar Cardozo with a low diving save before scampering off his line to block Lazar Markovic's goal-bound effort moments later.

He saved from Markovic again in the second half as well as left-back Silvio and substitute Filip Djuricic late on.   Continued...

Olympiakos' Kostas Manolas (L) fights for the ball against Benfica's Lima (2nd L) during their Champions League soccer match at Karaiskaki stadium in Piraeus near Athens November 5, 2013. REUTERS/John Kolesidis