By George Georgakopoulos
Panathinaikos bowed out of Europe for the season after succumbing to a mediocre Tottenham with a 3-1 score in London on Thursday.
The Greens finished third in their Europa League group with five points from six games, and know they could have done much better.
They went into to the game at White Hart Lane needing victory in order to advance at the expense of the Spurs, but wasted their best chance to open the score in the 21st minute through Toche and fell behind eight minutes later when Clint Dempsey spotted Emmanuel Adebayor in perfect fashion with the Togo international slotting the ball home for 1-0.
While Jermain Defoe missed twice the chance to give the Premier League side a two-goal cushion, the second time being denied by the post, Panathinaikos grew in confidence and gave the noisy travelling fans something to cheer about when Zeca headed in a pinpoint Nikos Spyropoulos cross from the left in the 54th.
With the score at 1-1, the tide was in the Greeks’ favor, who were now in the attack looking for the winning goal that would have seen them through to the last 32 of the competition, but Toche once again failed to turn in another great chance.
And when Tottenham regained the lead 16 minutes from time, the Greeks would have been excused for thinking luck was not on their side: A free-kick by Kyle Walker found Dempsey. The American headed the ball onto the crossbar, but that came off Panathinaikos goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis’s back to go into the net.
To add insult to injury, Defoe finally managed to get onto the score sheet chipping the ball over Karnezis in the 83rd minute.
The game was strongly reminiscent of the other Anglo-Greek clash in London this season, when Arsenal beat Olympiakos 3-1 for the Champions League. If anything, both encounters have shown to the Greeks that having good spells in a game against tough opposition is not enough to win.