A pair of last-minute goals sealed the fate of Malmö as Olympiacos beat the Swedish champions 4-2 November 26 in Piraeus, Greece in the final match of Group A of the UEFA Champions League.
Malmö went into the match needing a win to advance the Round of 32 of the second-tier Europa League. Although not quite as financially lucrative as the Champions League, had Malmö advanced it would have continued to reap the rewards of high-level international play. Instead, it was the Greek champions who got the last leg up and narrowly missed taking second in the group and advancing to the knock-out stage of the Champions League.
Malmö went down fighting, battling the Greek champions to the final minute but goals from Kostas Mitroglou and substitute Ibrahim Afellay in the last four minutes of regulation time ended the resistance of the Swedes, who had twice drawn level. Alejandro Domínguez's sensational volley and David Fuster's opener sandwiched Simon Kroon's strike for the visitors, before Markus Rosenberg made it 2-2 with nine minutes left.
“My players did what they could,” said Malmö manager Åge Hareide. “Olympiacos initially pressed, but we kept our composure and managed to equalize twice. We lost our concentration in the end and the players got tired, but I'm proud of them − they did their best. We just had a very bad last six minutes. Everything else went according to plan. The last six minutes cost us. Things never go as planned if you can't deal with the opposition's set pieces and corners.”
Olympiacos started confidently with midfielder Fuster drawing a stop from Robin Olsen with a low shot. Olsen then made a fine double save from Domínguez’s cross-shot and Pajtim Kasami's close-range follow-up as the hosts asserted their authority. Such enterprising play was rewarded in the 22nd minute when Fuster headed home Kasami's knock-on from Arthur Masuaku's long throw. Malmö found it difficult to retain possession and it spoke volumes that they failed to register a single first-half effort on target, Delvin N'Dinga's header against his own crossbar their only sight of goal.
Olympiacos began the second half as the first, with a forward surge and Mitroglou was only denied a goal by Olsen's superb point-blank reflexes. At 1-0, however, Malmö were still in contention, and their patience paid off on 59 minutes when a quick counterattack saw substitute Kroon restore parity with his first touch from Emil Forsberg's precise cross, just two minutes after coming on.
Yet Olympiacos hit back almost immediately, the inspired Domínguez volleying brilliantly past Olsen after Markus Halsti's poor defensive header. The Swedish title holders levelled again, though, with Rosenberg tapping in his third goal in six matches from Anton Tinnerholm's excellent delivery. Even so, Olympiacos had the last word as Mitroglou nodded home with three minutes remaining, and then Afellay slotted in Kasami's pass.
Malmö forward Rosenberg said he believes his team will be back.
“These have been good six games for us. We were the first Swedish team in 15 years [to make it to the group stage] and we did well. We played good football, were a bit unlucky in a few games and could have got more points. But in all six games we played really good football,” he said.
“We took three points in Sweden and could have taken more at home against both Atlético and Juventus. Today, with a bit of luck, we could have also won. It is never nice to finish last in the group, but we are a small team and got much experience from this season. I hope that we can be here next year as well.”