Panathinaikos, unprepared, survives scare for 2-1 win

Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Gonzalez scored twice on his European debut for Panathinaikos on Tuesday night as the Greek club began its Champions League venture by beating Norwegian titlist Rosenborg 2-1 in Group E. Despite the win, Panathinaikos, whose players needed to overcome a lack of playing time this season – Greece’s first division kicks off this weekend – seemed an uncoordinated team. By comparison, the Norwegian side, already well into its domestic season in anticipation of the icy Scandinavian country’s customary midwinter break, looked a far better-prepared unit. Following his side’s patchy performance Tuesday night, Panathinaikos coach Yitzhak Shum can be expected to make changes to his team’s lineup for this weekend’s domestic league first-round match against Ionikos at home. Returning to the match action, Gonzalez, who moved to Panathinaikos at the end of last season, unleashed a powerful left-foot shot in the 42nd minute which beat goalkeeper Espen Johnsen. Gonzalez struck again in the 79th with another fierce shot from the edge of the box. Johnsen was again left helpless as the ball ricocheted off the bar and into the net. Panathinaikos survived a traumatic final few minutes as the visitors grabbed a 90th-minute goal thanks to a mistake by ‘keeper Mario Galinovic, who fumbled a shot from Frode Johnsen. Rosenborg was more aggressive in the first half and came close to scoring on two occasions. But Roar Strand’s header and a shot by Orjan Berg from outside the area both hit the bar. Six minutes into the second period, Rosenborg squandered a major opportunity when Frode Johnsen, one-on-one with Galinovic, sent the ball over the crossbar. In the 61st, it was Dimitris Papadopoulos’s turn to miss a similar opportunity. The Greek striker attempted a lob but Espen Johnsen easily caught the ball. Panathinaikos relaxed too soon toward the end of the match and was made to pay in the 90th by Frode Johnsen, whose shot Galinovic should have saved. Chasing an equalizer, Rosenborg pressed ahead in the three minutes of injury time but Panathinaikos survived to take the three points. In the other Group E match, Arsenal topped PSV Eindhoven 1-0. The Gunners needed an own goal to overcome PSV Eindhoven at home, but were delighted to have got off to a winning start this time. Last season, Inter Milan provided a major shock to Arsenal’s fans after defeating the Londoners 3-0 at home. (AP, Kathimerini)

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