Panathinaikos suffered a 3-0 drabbing in the hands of NK Maribor in Slovenia on Thursday in its opening game for the group stage of the Europa League, showing nothing of the qualities that had established it as a decent European side in the past.
The Greens produced very little in attack and were frail in defense against the group’s least experienced side. The Greeks’ performance must have made their 200 fans at the stands wonder what will happen later when Panathinaikos gets to face the likes of Tottenham and Lazio in the group.
The Slovenians were the better side in the game and thoroughly deserved their famous victory, their first in the Europa League group stage after notching up just one draw last season.
Maribor took the lead after 25 minutes. A delicate Marcos Tavares through-ball found Robert Beric inside the box. Surrounded by four defenders, Beric managed to slide the ball neatly past keeper Orestis Karnezis for 1-0.
Then early in the second half Panathinaikos missed its only decent chance through Zeca, before it conceded a second goal when Agim Ibraimi capitalized on a Quincy Owusu-Abeyie error.
Two minutes from time Ibrahim Sissoko was harshly judged to have fouled Tavares in the box. The Maribor star took the penalty kick to make it 3-0.
As if that had not been enough, Nikos Spyropoulos got a second yellow card in injury time.
Panathinaikos manager Jesualdo Ferreira was lost for words after the game: «It’s hard for me to explain what happened,» he uttered. His share of the blame is indisputable. His ideaof fielding the team without a single striker backfired.
In the group’s other game Tottenham and Lazio shared a goalless draw in London.