SPORTS

Panathinaikos strikes back twice against Arsenal for a 2-2 draw

Emmanuel Olisadebe scored an 82nd-minute equalizer Wednesday as Panathinaikos twice came from behind to hold Arsenal to a 2-2 draw in Group E of the Champions League. The Poland striker, who came on in the second half, headed in an Angelos Basinas corner to wild cheers by the 13,000 fans at Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium. «We had the strength and the determination to win. We came back twice,» said Panathinaikos’s Czech coach Zdenek Scasny. «In the end we had more chances, but it’s the goals that count.» Fredrik Ljungberg opened for the visitors in the 18th minute. Panathinaikos fended off a string of threats and only got back in the game in the 65th. Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Gonzalez, who scored twice in his team’s first Champions League match this season in a 2-1 win over Rosenborg, curled in a lob from 30 meters to catch ‘keeper Jens Lehmann off guard. Arsenal pushed forward and again went ahead nine minutes later, when Thierry Henry sidefooted a cross from Ashley Cole into the net. But Olisadebe exploited a gap in the visitors’ defense to nod the ball past Lehmann. «I think we played better than Arsenal. We pressed them all the time, so everything is possible,» Panathinaikos defender Yiannis Goumas said. Late in the match, Panathinaikos preserved the score with Halkias leaping to block successive shots from Reyes and Robert Pires in the 85th. «It is difficult to win away from home. It’s as simple as that,» Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. Arsenal, which has only lost once in its last 10 Champions League matches, is now in second place in the group with five points, trailing PSV Eindhoven by one. PSV topped Rosenborg 2-1 in the other group match. Panathinaikos is third in Group E with four points, and Rosenborg is last with just one. Arsenal, which faces Manchester United this weekend, kept the pace slow, relying on counterattacks. And Wenger, missing injured Patrick Vieira, started 17-year-old Cesc Fabregas and Brazilian midfielder Edu. Panathinaikos last played Arsenal in the Champions League in Athens in 2001, when it beat the English club with a goal by Giorgos Karagounis. In last night’s opening round of the inaugural UEFA Cup group stage, AEK, after going ahead early, suffered a heavy 5-1 loss in Russia against Zenit. Aegaleo, playing at home, lost 1-0 to Middlesbrough. Panionios, in Athens, was due to meet Newcastle United later in the evening. (AP, Kathimerini)