Vincent Aboubakar bagged a potentially vital away goal for Besiktas as they fought out a 1-1 draw at managerless Olympiacos in their Europa League last-16 first leg clash.
Olympiacos made the questionable decision to sack head coach Paulo Bento on Monday despite the club leading the Greek Superleague by seven points.
The home side – who have lost three straight home league games – did not appear to be lifted by Bento’s dismissal and it was somewhat undeserved when veteran midfielder Esteban Cambiasso headed Olympiacos into an undeserved lead nine minutes before the end of a forgettable first half at a rain-lashed Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis.
It was a lead on which Olympiacos – who had Vasilis Vouzas in interim charge – failed to build, though, and an error from goalkeeper Nicola Leali allowed Aboubakar to level for the visitors early in the second half.
Beskitas will feel they maybe did enough to win the game with Ryan Babel wasting two excellent second-half chances, but Senol Gunes’ men will feel they have the advantage heading into the return tie in Istanbul.
YESSS! ABOUBAKAR does it!!!
Olympiacos 1-1 Beşiktaş pic.twitter.com/VCRzchzxeB
— Beşiktaş JK English (@BesiktasEnglish) 9 March 2017
Clear-cut chances were at a premium in a forgettable opening, with Tarik Elyounoussi’s 20-yard shot that was easily saved by Besiktas goalkeeper Fabricio the only effort of note.
Besiktas were dominant in terms of possession, but aside from two long-range efforts that missed the target from Ricardo Quaresma they did little to trouble the hosts.
Olympiacos had offered little, but provided the game with a much-needed spark in the 36th minute.
Karim Ansarifard’s teasing left-foot cross from the right flank picked out Cambiasso and the he powered his header past Fabricio.
The home side almost doubled their lead just after the break as Alberto Botia’s diving header flashed narrowly wide, but moments later, the left-back was inadvertently involved in gifting Besiktas an equaliser.
It was his routine backpass that goalkeeper Leali scuffed straight to Aboubakar and the Cameroon striker raced to the edge of the box before rifling home a low shot.
The visitors should then have taken the lead on the hour-mark, but Leali at least partially redeemed himself by making a fine save at the feet of Babel who had been played in by the increasingly influential Quaresma.
And the Portuguese winger linked up well with Babel again two minutes later, this time the Dutchman just failing to convert his cross at the far post.
Dusko Tosic then drew another save from Leali with a header from a Quaresma cross and Anderson Talisca also went close late on, firing wastefully over from just inside the box, but they at least have an away goal to protect.
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