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Champions League

Greece's "night of shame" as clubs fail to reach Champions League

Greece will not have a representative in the Champions League for the first time in 20 years after Olympiakos' shock 1-0 defeat to Hapoel Beer Sheva and PAOK's loss to Ajax

Olympiakos players Sasa Zdjelarin, left, and Ideye Brown leave the pitch dejected after losing to Hapoel Beer-Sheva Champions league qualifying match in Beersheba

Greek newspapers bemoaned the country's diminishing football fortunes on Thursday after Olympiakos Piraeus and PAOK Salonica crashed out of the Champions League in the third qualifying round the previous evening.

PAOK lost 2-1 to Ajax Amsterdam on Wednesday to go down 3-2 on aggregate, while Olympiakos' shock 1-0 defeat by Hapoel Beer Sheva (1-0 on aggregate) ensured Greece would not be represented in the group stages for the first time in two decades.

"Greek football goes back 20 years!" The front page headline of national newspaper Ethnos said in reference to the 1996-97 season, when Panathinaikos suffered a 4-0 aggregate defeat by Rosenborg to be eliminated before the group stages.

Ajax's Davy Klaassen (c) celebrates his goal agasint PAOK
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Ajax's Davy Klaassen (c) celebrates his goal agasint PAOKSOTIRIS BARBAROUSISEFE

Sports tabloid Protathlitis (The Champion) went with a headline that read "Night of Shame", before criticising Olympiakos for going out to their Israeli opponents and calling for Spanish coach Victor Sanchez to be fired.

"Painful" and "pitiful" 

"The King was naked... only bitterness for a pitiful performance," the paper said. "The end for Victor, {owner Vangelis) Marinakis will change everything."

Sports daily Fos said losing to the tournament debutants from Israel was "a painful defeat which takes Olympiakos back to square one".

"Stay there -- for 20 million kicks!" blared the headline on the tabloid Sportday, referring to the estimated loss in revenue in euros for not reaching the lucrative group stages. Despite their elimination from the Champions League, both sides will go into Friday's draw for the Europa League playoffs.


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