Panathinaikos has taken a clear lead over Motherwell after its 2-0 win in Scotland on Tuesday for the third qualifying round of the Champions League.
Goals by Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Charis Mavrias gave the Greens a precious win in their first competitive game of the season and will advance to the playoffs of the continent?s biggest club competition barring a major upset in the return leg in Athens on August 8.
Panathinaikos stormed into the game and silenced Fir Park after just 13 minutes when a Christodoulopoulos freekick from the left bounced into the Motherwell net as the hosts? defense was confused by Jean-Alain Boumsong?s move.
The Scots were the better team in the following 20 minutes but the Greens could have scored again before half-time had it not been for Toche?s poor finishing.
The Panathinaikos defense, on the other hand, committed a number of errors but was not punished for it as Motherwell proved wasteful in the chances it got.
With 15 minutes left on the clock Panathinaikos manager Jesualdo Ferreira introduced Mavrias as a substitute, and he scored with his first touch a minute later as he made the most of a wonderful cross-field pass by man-of-the-match Ibrahim Sissoko.
The Greeks held on to a victory that puts them on the driving seat in this qualifier, with qualification to the playoffs meaning that even if they fall at the next hurdle they will still play in the Europa League group stage. That will fetch some desperately needed revenues to the Athens giants.