Panathinaikos beats Werder Bremen 2-1

Panathinaikos scored two early goals and held on to defeat Werder Bremen 2-1 late on Tuesday in a Group C Champions League match at the Athens Olympic Stadium. It was the first win in the campaign for the Greek team, while Werder Bremen looked hard pressed to progress after going down in their second straight defeat. «Panathinaikos still has room for improvement. Tonight we had pathos, strength and fire. We have a way to go yet, but I am optimistic,» said Panathinaikos’s Italian coach Alberto Malesani. Panathinaikos started off the match strongly and, on its second attack in the fifth minute, was awarded a penalty by French referee Eric Poulat when Hungarian forward Sandor Torghelle was tripped just inside the penalty area by Werder Bremen’s Brazilian defender Naldo. Argentinean midfielder Ezequiel Gonzalez did the honors for the home team and blasted the penalty shot high above the outstretched hands of Werder Bremen’s goalie Andreas Reinke, giving Panathinaikos the lead. Three minutes later, Torghelle again broke loose from the German team’s defense and, just before being brought down outside the penalty area, passed the ball to a charging Evangelos Manzios who sent the ball into the back of the net and put Panathinaikos further ahead. «I am very happy. We needed that win and the team looked much better. It was an open match and both teams had chances,» said 22-year-old Mantzios, who was playing in his first Champions League match. The two early goals did not deter the visitors, who took over control of the match for the rest of the first half and kept the pressure on the Panathinaikos defense and Croatian goalie Mario Galinovic. In the 14th minute, Croatian striker Ivan Klasnic came on one-on-one with Galinovic but the Greek team’s goalie snuffed out the golden opportunity for Werder Bremen. But the constant pressure on Panathinaikos’s defense brought results as forward Miroslav Klose blasted a shot from just inside the penalty box over Galinovic in the 41st minute to put Werder Bremen within reach. Their goal came when the hosts were one man short, as team captain Yiannis Goumas had been injured and was seeking medical attention for a torn eyebrow. He was eventually replaced in the match by Ilias Kotsios. Despite scoring only in the first half, Panathinaikos played much better in the second half and had two shots that hit the goalpost by Gonzalez and another by the same player being kicked away at the goal line by Reinke. «We played more openly and with desire. We had many chances in the second half, but the significant thing is that we got the three points. Everyone knows that Barcelona will take first place in our group and we will fight for second place,» Gonzalez said. The best chance Werder Bremen had in scoring in the second half came in the 80th minute when Galinovic denied two back-to-back shots from up close from Aaron Hunt and Klasnic. In the other group match, Barcelona beat Udinese 4-1, with Ronaldinho scoring a hat trick.