Panathinaikos wins place in quarter-finals with 2-2 draw

Panathinaikos earned a Champions League quarter-final berth after a 2-2 draw against Group C winners Real Madrid on Wednesday. Panathinaikos went into the match needing a draw to be certain of a place in the last eight but Porto’s 2-0 defeat at Sparta Prague meant the Greek side qualified anyway. A second-string Real line-up competed strongly and completed another stylish European outing with a surprise goal from debutant Javier Garcia Portillo. The Madrid youngster fired home a long-range drive in the 80th minute to add a nervous note to a celebratory night at the Leoforos Stadium. The hosts got off to a dream start as striker Nikos Lymberopoulos thumped a hot volley past Iker Casillas in the ninth minute. Panathinaikos’s celebrations were short-lived, though, as Steve McManaman put Fernando Morientes in behind the home defense to head the equalizer two minutes later. Jan Michaelsen should have restored the Greek side’s lead before the break when he faced off against Casillas but he delayed, allowing the goalkeeper to save. Defender and captain Yiannis Goumas put Panathinaikos back in front 64 minutes in when he headed home a Goran Vlaovic free kick. Coach Sergio Markarian brought on striker Emmanuel Olisadebe, as the home side continued to look for a third goal, but Real’s play became increasingly fluid. Argentine substitute Santiago Solari cemented his burgeoning reputation with some stylish touches for the visitors but the real player of the evening was young Portillo. A constant threat up front, the mobile forward grabbed a goal out of nothing with 10 minutes to go, as his shot from 30 meters flew into the top corner past Antonis Nikopolidis. The draw for the Champions League quarter-finals will be held at the headquarters of European soccer federation UEFA today. The other six qualifiers are: Spain’s Barcelona and Deportivo, England’s Manchester United and Liverpool, and Germany’s Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen. The final will be played on May 15 at Hampden Park in Glasgow, Scotland.

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