El-Arabi hails Olympiacos’ never-say-die spirit


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12 Dec 2019, 06:36 IST

El-Arabi cropped
Olympiacos forward Youssef El-Arabi

Olympiacos forward Youssef El-Arabi claimed the never-say-die attitude of his team-mates helped them secure Europa League football next year.

El-Arabi scored an 87th-minute penalty to give Olympiacos a 1-0 win over Red Star Belgrade in their final Champions League Group B match on Wednesday.

The victory enabled Olympiacos to climb above their opponents into third spot and ensured the Greek side will take part in continental competition in 2020.

Morocco international El-Arabi said: “We had many attempts to score, but sometimes, regardless of the volume of opportunities, the ball just wouldn’t go in. 

“But we didn’t give up and succeeded in the end. Most important, we held on to qualify.

“I admit it wasn’t easy to take that penalty. But I am glad, because we had to win the match and qualification rested on that spot-kick.

“I congratulate my team because we fought until the last minute and that penalty was the compensation of our efforts.

“Congratulations also to their goalkeeper, who had a great performance.”

Red Star goalkeeper Milan Borjan refused to blame team-mate Tomane for his penalty miss in the first half but acknowledged the team need to do things differently in future European campaigns.

“In order to be more competitive in Europe, we have to change a lot as a team,” he told reporters afterwards.

“We need to look at ourselves, look at each other, be honest and change a lot of things. 

“For example, today we didn’t have ball possession which we needed. We tried to counter-attack more, it didn’t happen. 

“Our concentration in the last minutes fell down.”

Borjan produced a heroic performance between the posts as he made several brilliant saves and was disappointed for it to ultimately be meaningless.

“It’s not only me, the whole team fought hard, they gave it all, running, sliding,” he said.

“We were so good at the back, but such things happen and you lose games. We came very close to our objective, but this is life. 

“This is football, you know? We have to continue now. We need to focus now on the championship and the cup and win them.”

Red Star head coach Vladan Milojevic added: “It is obviously not a nice feeling to lose.

“I think we prepared well for the match, but we just did not realise the chances we had. We probably could have played better, and we will analyse and learn from this.”

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