* Olympiakos win 3-1 to qualify in second above Benfica
* Greek side miss two penalties and score one spot kick
* Anderlecht left frustrated after having three sent off
* Keeper makes two penalty saves before late dismissal (Adds quotes)
By Graham Wood
ATHENS, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Olympiakos forward Javier Saviola scored twice in a 3-1 victory over Anderlecht, who finished with eight men, as the hosts reached the Champions League last 16 at Benfica's expense in Group C despite missing two penalties.
The win puts Olympiakos in the knockout phase for the first time since 2010, having finished in second place level on 10 points with Benfica but with a better head-to-head record.
The Portuguese side failed to progress despite a 2-1 success over group winners Paris St Germain, who have 13 points, and drop into the Europa League. Anderlecht were last on one point.
Argentine forward Saviola opened the scoring after 33 minutes with a clinical finish but Olympiakos were punished on the counter after losing concentration when Sacha Kljestan finished off a flowing move to level for the Belgians.
Veteran Saviola, 32, had a penalty saved at the start of the second half after Anderlecht defender Cheikhou Kouyate was dismissed for collecting a second yellow card for a handball but the striker then scored from close range for his second goal.
There was late drama as Anderlecht's Fabrice N'Sakala and goalkeeper Silvio Proto, who saved twice from the penalty spot, were sent off for picking up two yellow cards.
Vladimir Weiss had also been denied by Proto before Alejandro Dominguez succeeded with the home side's third spot-kick to complete the scoring in added time.
"We deserved the qualification because of all the hard work we have put in. We are delighted and will really enjoy this moment," said Olympiakos coach Michel.
"We knew it would be a tough game as Anderlecht are a good team. We expected to suffer, but not as much as it proved. There were many anxious moments for us."
Anderlecht coach John van den Brom was furious with the defeat, accusing the officials of gifting Olympiakos the match.
"We managed to equalise before halftime even though Olympiakos had control of the game but after the break the gift-giving began," he said.
"Red cards, penalties.... it was like someone did not want us to leave here with a win. We continued to battle with 10, nine and eight players players, but it seemed that it was certain we would not be allowed to leave with victory.
"I am not implying anything, I am saying what I saw."
"In the end the results and standings do not lie and based on their performances Olympiakos were one of the two better teams in the group I wish them good luck," he added.
Olympiakos began the match on the attack with Michael Olaitan providing a threat with his direct running in the absence of injured leading scorer Kostas Mitroglou.
Paulo Machado had the first effort on target for the hosts with a curling free kick that was turned around the post by Proto.
Chances were at a premium but Olympiakos made their possession count when Saviola pounced to score.
The Argentine, who had curled a shot just wide moments earlier, latched on to David Fuster's deflected shot which fell kindly for him to bury a low drive past Proto.
Anderlecht were level six minutes later after executing a classic counter down the left following an Olympiakos corner.
It culminated in Dennis Praet's unselfish pass to American Sacha Kljestan, who slotted into an empty net from close range.
Olympiakos were presented with a golden chance to reclaim the lead when they were awarded a penalty for Kouyate's handball only for Saviola to see his weak effort saved by Proto.
Saviola made no mistake in the 58th minute though, stretching to prod Fuster's miss-hit shot into the top corner to put the Reds ahead for the second time in the match.
Substitute Weiss became the second Olympiakos player to miss from the penalty spot with 18 minutes left with the Slovakian also denied by Proto, who then showed brilliant reflexes to palm away Olaitan's goal-bound effort moments later.
N'Sakala and Proto were both sent off for late lunges, the latter resulting in a third penalty which Dominguez converted deep into added time to wrap up the victory.
"Now we have a three-month break before the Champions League continues so we can look to strengthen the squad, improve our play and be a better team," said Michel. "We work hard every day and will continue in this way." (Editing by Ken Ferris and Josh Reich)
- Sports & Recreation
- Javier Saviola
- Silvio Proto