Panathinaikos salvages draw

Pantelis Constantinidis came off the bench to score a late goal and salvage a 1-1 draw for Panathinaikos against Glasgow Rangers in their Champions League Group E game in Athens Wednesday night. Yet despite earning their first point in the competition after two rounds of play, Panathinaikos, lacking organization and spirit for most of the game, seemed just a shadow of the side that reached the quarterfinals two years ago. The tie, combined with Stuttgart’s 2-1 home victory over Manchester United, sent the Scots to the top of the group with four points, with each team having played two games. Stuttgart and Manchester United share second place with three points each, while Panathinaikos, on one point, stays at the bottom of the group. «I’m disappointed, I feel it’s two points we dropped. I can’t complain too much. When Panathinaikos got a player sent off, we showed fear for the first time,» Rangers Coach Alex McLeish said after the match. He apparently went into a rage in the dressing rooms following the game, ignited by the Greek side’s late equalizer. In four previous encounters with Greek clubs, the Scots were defeated twice by AEK Athens in the 1994 Champions League qualifying round. Rangers beat and drew with PAOK four years later in the UEFA Cup. Rangers controlled play from the start, coming close to opening the scoring in the third minute. A shot by Shota Arveladze from inside the box went just over keeper Costas Halkias’s crossbar. In the 12th, it was Panathinaikos’s turn to be denied a goal when Rangers’ Mikel Arteta cleared a shot by Croatian midfielder Silvio Maric off the line. Panathinaikos was seeking to forget the 5-0 thrashing from Manchester United two weeks ago. But the team kicked off with four of its regular starters on the bench because of injuries. Rangers, unbeaten in seven domestic matches, took the lead with Brazilian midfielder Emerson who scored at close range off a cross from Portuguese forward Capucho in the 34th. Ioannis Goumas, who replaced injured defender Sotiris Kyrgiakos in the 46th, handicapped the Greek side when he was sent off in the 56th, forcing Panathinaikos to play with 10 players for the rest of the game. Panathinaikos sought desperately to get the equalizer, which came in the 88th minute and involved two substitutes. Constantinidis, who came on for Cameroon’s midfielder Joel Epale in the 78th, skillfully headed in the ball after a cross from Dimitris Papadopoulos, who replaced Goran Vlaovic in the 63rd. «In the first half Rangers were better, but in the second we played with more passion. It’s not easy to play with 10 at this level,» Panathinaikos coach Itzhak Shum said afterward. Kyrgiakos’s injury, damaged knee ligaments, will leave him out of action for the rest of this year, club doctors said. The 24-year old’s loss is the second injury setback for Panathinaios in a week after striker Emmanuel Olisadebe was sidelined until January following knee surgery. Both Kyrgiakos and Olisadebe are expected to be missing for a similar length of time. (AP, Kathimerini)

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