Thanks to a late joker goal from Maximilian Philipp, SC Freiburg secured the victory they were hoping for at the start of the new Europa League season.

The Baden team won their first group game at Olympiakos Piraeus 3:2 (2:1). Roland Sallai (9th minute), Vincenzo Grifo with a penalty kick (45th 7) and Philipp (86th), who had been substituted ten minutes earlier, scored for coach Christian Streich’s team, which has recently lost twice in the Bundesliga. Ayoub El Kaabi (40th/75th) scored both goals for the Greek record champions.

In the expectedly heated atmosphere of the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, an at times wild game developed. SC captain Grifo made a serious mistake in his own penalty area after just five minutes, but teammate Matthias Ginter ironed it out and cleared El Kaabi’s shot off the line. Shortly later, Nicolas Freire played a back pass that was far too short on the other side, Freiburg’s Sallai grabbed the ball and sank it coolly into the left corner. In the 18th minute, an arm use in a duel with Santiago Hezze had no consequences for the Hungarian, but his opponent had to be replaced due to an injury.

Grifo scores a penalty

Freiburg tried to maintain control, but they couldn’t really close down their left side defensively. Olympiacos captain Konstantinos Fortounis hit the crossbar with a corner (26′), then El Kaabi flicked the ball over the line after a cross into the six-yard box to make it 1-1. Another bad mistake – this time from Freiburg’s U21 international Kenneth Schmidt – almost gave the Greeks the lead, but goalkeeper Noah Atubolu made the save (45.3).

Immediately before the break, Paniagotis Retsos fouled Freiburg’s agile offensive man Ritsu Doan in the hosts’ penalty area, and Grifo converted the penalty flatly and safely.

There were also slight mistakes here and there in the second half – one by SC keeper Atubolu, who had not always looked confident in the league recently, was unable to be capitalized on by Vicente Iborra (48′). Later, the eye-catching El Kaabi was there for another cross from Fortounis – and Atubolu was powerless at 2-2. But the SC struck back again through Philipp after a corner.

Last season, Freiburg won their first Europa League away game in Piraeus and then made it to the round of 16. This time, however, they found it much more difficult than in the confident 3-0 victory a little over a year ago.