Panathinaikos earned Greece’s first point at the group stage of European competitions this season by drawing 1-1 at home with mighty Tottenham for the Europa League on Thursday.
A superb second-half performance saw the Greeks prove too hard to beat at home once again, in their third European game in Athens this season, although in the first half Tottenham was clearly the better team at the Olympic Stadium.
The fact that Panathinaikos avoided defeat to a team from a superior league and with a string of good results in recent weeks will bolster the battered morale of the Athens club, especially since it came one day after its captain Costas Katsouranis was shown the door.
In a game that lagged in pace but had some interesting moments for the 20,000 fans who enjoyed it, Tottenham waited until the 35th minute to open the score. A Tom Huddlestone freekick from the left was turned in by captain Michael Dawson who rose high to head the ball with ease.
Panathinaikos coach Jesualdo Ferreira introduced Ibrahim Sissoko at half-time and the Ivory Coast international changed the balance in midfield in the host’s favor. The Greens enjoyed more possession and put more pressure on the Spurs’ goal.
This pressure paid off in the 77th minute when a pinpoint cross from Giourkas Seitaridis found Toche inside the box. In an unusual glimpse of his talent in finishing, the Spaniard slid the ball past Tottenham keeper Hugo Lloris to set the Olympic Stadium alight and restore some of the confidence the club had lost in the last few weeks.
Panathinaikos pressed on for a winner with the introduction of substitute Charis Mavrias, but one point against Tottenham is more than welcome for the Greeks.
This, after all, was their first point in the group after two games. Their next Europa League match is in three weeks’ time at home against group leader Lazio.