Gregoritsch stars in 5-0 win

First Team

SC Freiburg convincingly beat Olympiacos 5-0 to ensure they will progress further in the UEFA Europa League. Michael Gregoritsch contributed with a stunning hat-trick, whilst Kiliann Sildillia and Ritsu Doan also got on the scoresheet.

When the Mexican wave is undulating around the ground after 80 minutes, the SC Freiburg waltz is on show by the 90-minute mark, and the chants are in full flow in injury time, then something special has to have happened at the Europa-Park Stadion.  

There was a change in formation to that which began the weekend’s 1-1 draw vs. Darmstadt, as a four-back system was deployed. Kiliann Sildillia replaced Manuel Gulde in the starting XI and began the game at right-back, with Jordy Makengo making his first start for SCF at left-back. 

“We started the game well and had some good chances right away,” commented head coach Christian Streich in his post-match press conference. A deflected Maximiliian Eggestein cross landed at the feet of Michael Gregoritsch after just three minutes, and the attacker used his body to keep the Olympiacos defender away from the ball before placing an accurate shot into the bottom-left corner, a goal his coach would go on to describe “super” after the final whistle blew.  

Gregoritsch’s strike partner Lucas Höler spoke at a press conference on Wednesday about how important goals were in giving strikers a boost. The Austria international would go on to prove this just five minutes after scoring his first competitive goal of the season. He was first denied by Olympiacos goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis from an 18-yard effort, but the resulting corner led to Ritsu Doan picking out Gregoritsch perfectly for the striker to nod in unchallenged from close range, making it 2-0 to the hosts.  

Gregoritsch eventually completes his hat-trick 

SC were putting together some fantastic passing moves in the opening exchanges. Once they had broken their Greek visitors’ initial press, the home side found themselves afforded lots of space which they went on to use. After the Greek record champions squandered two half-chances through Kostas Fortounis (10’) and Daniel Podence (12’), whose shot was blocked, Michael Gregoritsch had a good chance to score a third on the 20-minute mark. Höler played it to Makengo, who ran down the by-line before chipping it into the middle. It eventually found its way through to Gregoritsch, who narrowly missed out on his hat-trick. 

The hosts were by far the more decisive side on the night, as was proven by Philipp Lienhart’s last-ditch tackle on Sotiris Alexandropoulos after 33 minutes. The challenge denied the visitors a way back into the game, and then three minutes later it was 3-0 to Freiburg. Makengo crossed superbly to pick out Gregoritsch in the middle, whose header from ten yards out gave Paschalakis no chance and completed the attacker’s hat-trick. 

Sildillia increases SCF’s advantage 

Olympiacos attacker Ayoub El Kaabi, who scored twice for the Greek side in the return fixture, had been completely marked out of the game by Matthias Ginter and Philipp Lienhart. At the other end of the pitch, the Freiburg attack added to their side’s lead. Michael Gregoritsch played a great pass through for Kiliann Sildillia who charged into the box from the right-hand side of the pitch and opened his first-team account with a tidy finish from 15 yards, netting the home side’s fourth of the evening in the process (42’). “We played really well today. The fourth goal put the game to bed. It was a lovely evening, a great game – we're really happy,“ summarised Streich after full time.  

With the score 4-0 at half time, some of the fans couldn’t believe their eyes. It was a routine performance from Freiburg in the second half in front of the 34,000 in attendance. There weren’t so many highlights after the break, but El Kaabi did come close from a tight angle (60’) and Gregoritsch duly received a standing ovation after he was subbed off in the 66th minute. Junior Adamu replaced him, and just 11 minutes after coming on, he found himself in lots of space on the left flank in the midst of a Freiburg counterattack. Upon reaching the edge of Olympiacos’ penalty area, he squared it across, looking for Grifo; the pass would get deflected and diverted towards Ritsu Doan, who coolly slotted home from 12 yards for Freiburg’s fifth.  

Merlin Röhl and Roland Sallai, two players who had recently been sidelined due to injury, were also subbed on in the second half, as Bosnian referee Irfan Peljto brought things to a close after three minutes of second-half injury time. The pair rightly celebrated the big win together with their teammates and the SCF fans present. Even West Ham’s late winner against Backa Topola couldn’t dampen the mood. If Freiburg win at the London stadium in two weeks’ time, they will finish as group winners and qualify directly for the Europa League round of 16 – a draw or defeat will mean they have to qualify for that round via a play-off. Whatever happens, SC Freiburg will definitely be playing Europa League football in 2024.  

Photos: Achim Keller 

Match facts

SC Freiburg: Atubolu - Sildillia, Ginter, Lienhart (66', Gulde), Makengo - Höfler (78', Weißhaupt), Eggestein - Doan, Grifo (78', Sallai) - Gregoritsch (66', Röhl), Höler (66', Adamu) 
Head coach: Christian Streich 
Bench: Müller, Rüdlin, Baur 
Olympiacos: Paschalakis - Rodinei (84', Quini), Retsos, Ntoi, Ortega - Camara, Hezze (84', Carvalho) - Fortounis, Alexandropoulos (46', Iborra), Podence (49', Masouras) - El Kaabi (84', El-Arabi) 
Head coach: Diego Martínez 
Bench: Tzolakis, Papadoudis, Biel, Solbakken 
Goals: 1-0 Gregoritsch (3'), 2-0 Gregoritsch (8'), 3-0 Gregoritsch (36'), 4-0 Sildillia (42'), 5-0 Doan (77') 
Yellow cards: - Hezze, Retsos, Iborra 
Referee: Irfan Peljto  
Attendance: 34,000 


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