Two first-half goals from hosts Malaga on Wednesday severely dented Panathinaikos?s chances of making it into the Champions League group stages.
Panathinaikos, coached by former Malaga boss Jesualdo Ferreira, were undone by first-half goals from Argentina defender Martin Demichelis and Portuguese midfielder Eliseu.
Demichelis put Malaga in front when he reacted quickly to flick home from close range in the 17th minute.
Portuguese Eliseu volleyed the second just after the half hour
?We were slow to react in the first half but as we saw in the second half, we can play as equals against this opponent,? said Ferreira.
?We had some chances but we didn?t take them and things are difficult for us now. But I stress that nothing is over yet,? added the Portuguese, who knows his side will need a convincing performance in Athens next week to have a chance of advancing beyond the playoffs.
Malaga, who spent nearly 60 million euros on new players last year, have put the brakes on spending this summer and badly need the financial impetus the tournament provides.
Malaga fans greeted the players’ entry to the pitch with a giant banner that read, «What our grandparents never witnessed, our children are about to see.”
Elsewhere on Wednesday, Ismaily cancelled out Dusan Basta’s first-half opener as Sporting Braga drew 1-1 at home to Udinese.
AEL Limassol edged Anderlecht 2-1 with Dosa Junior and Rui Miguel’s goals sandwiching a Dieudonne Mbokani’s second-half equaliser for the Belgians.
Dynamo Zagreb skipper Milan Badelj scored the winner in the 2-1 victory over Maribor of Slovenia, having earlier put through his own goal.
The 23-year-old will join Hamburg in the German Bundesliga once next week’s second leg is completed
Belarusian side BATE Borisov defeated Israeli debutants Hapoel Kiryat Shmona 2-0 in the night’s other game.