SPORTS

Panathinaikos crashes out of Champions League

Panathinaikos suffered a crushing 4-3 defeat to Danish side Odense at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on Tuesday night that eliminated the Greens from the Champions League.

PAO, which held the lead at one stage in the third round qualification game, will now have to enter the play-offs of the lesser Europa League.

The Greens had secured a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Denmark last week and many thought that would have been enough for them to go through to the next stage of the Champions League. But the return leg started badly for the Greeks, as they conceded a goal after just 10 minutes.

Andreas Johansson powered home from close range to give the Danes the lead.

Panathinaikos was back on level terms 20 minutes later as Jean-Alain Boumsong scored with a towering header from a corner.

The home side surged ahead at the beginning of the second half as new signing Toche, who replaced the injured Stergos Marinos in the first half, stroked the ball home into an empty net after 50 minutes.

The Greens missed a glorious chance to extend the lead when Sotiris Ninis hit the post from close range. It was a miss that coach Jesualdo Ferreira was left to rue on 58 minutes when Espen Ruud curled a beautiful shot into Alexis Tsorvas?s top corner.

The 2-2 scoreline was enough to put the Dane?s through on away goals but they went even better than that, making it 3-2 with a deflected shot from Bashkim Kadrii on 80 minutes.

Just two minutes from full time, Hans Henrik Andreasen completed the route with a stunning long-range shot.

The Greens pulled a consolation goal back through substitute Antonis Petropoulos in injury time but it was not enough to put a shine on what was a dark night for Panathinaikos.

The cash-strapped club, which is experiencing boardroom turmoil, will now miss out on much-needed income from the Champions League and will instead have to pin its hopes on getting into the group stages of the Europa League.