Football: Panathinaikos Qualify As Group Winners
Posted December 10, 2008on:
ATHENS: Greeks Panathinaikos beat Anorthosis Famagusta of Cyprus 1-0 at the Athens Olympic Stadium here on Tuesday to win Group B and qualify for next year’s Champions League first knockout round.
Gutsy midfielder Giorgos Karagounis scored in the 69th minute after gaining possession from the Anorthosis defense before shooting past substitute keeper Zoltan Nagy from up close.
The win for Panathinaikos put an end to the Champions League dream of surprise-package Anorthosis, who were eliminated as the last-placed team in the pool with Werder Bremen taking the UEFA Cup spot in third having beaten Inter Milan 2-1.
It was also a perfect birthday present for Panathinaikos coach Henk Ten Cate who turned the team around after a poor start.
Panathinaikos applied pressure throughout the match but the Anorthosis defense, led by Greek international Trainos Dellas and Albanian keeper Arian Beqaj, held firm for the most part.
In the first half, the best opportunity came for the Athenians in the 38th minute when nifty footwork by Brazilian Cleyton blotted out the visitors’ defence allowing him to pass to an unmarked Vangelis Mantzios whose left-footed shot was deflected by Beqaj.
In the sixth minute, Karagounis’s swirling free kick from 35 yards out had Beqaj making a diving save.
The Cypriot team had one chance to take the lead in the first half when Nikos Nikolaou took advantage of a gap in the Panathinaikos defense to run into the area, pass the ball to Iraqi Hawar Taher whose fierce shot went over the crossbar.
There was talk of the match being postponed due to the rioting in Athens and other Greek cities after the shooting death of a teenager by a police officer over the weekend, but Greek police assured UEFA officials that there was the necessary manpower to ensure the match took place without incident.
One minute of silence was conducted before the match in memory of the 15-year-old who was killed.
Channel News Asia