SPORTS

Panathinaikos to push for win

Panathinaikos holds an advantage over Slovakia’s Artmedia Bratislava but will need to approach tonight’s return leg at home – for a UEFA Cup group spot – with caution, the Athens club’s coach Jose Peseiro told a pre-match news conference yesterday. Panathinaikos won the first leg 2-1 a fortnight ago in what proved to be a remarkable evening for domestic soccer with all five Greek teams winning their first-leg UEFA Cup qualifiers. Despite his words of caution, and the club’s advantage against the Slovaks, Peseiro said Panathianikos would pursue victory tonight. «We won’t play for the draw or for a 0-0 draw, we will give everything for the win, which is our responsibility as professionals,» the Portuguese coach told reporters. «Nobody should think that we’re through already. Artmedia has nothing to lose so we have to be 100 percent focused,» continued Peseiro, while urging fans to turn up in numbers for tonight’s home encounter. The Portuguese coach’s call for a solid turnout was reiterated by international midfielder Giorgos Karagounis, now back at Panathinaikos following tenures with Inter and Benfica over the past four seasons. «We haven’t got such a big stadium and we would like it to be full for every game and for fans to back us every moment as they did on Saturday during the times when we were not so good,» said the Greece international. Panathinaikos, a 2-0 winner over Thessaloniki team PAOK last Saturday, lies equal second in the Greek Super League, two points behind front runner AEK. Greece’s four other contenders for UEFA Cup group spots all play their return legs this Thursday. Panionios hosts French team Sochaux following an impressive 2-0 away win; AEK defends a 3-0 lead at Salzburg; Aris faces Zaragoza in Spain with a fragile 1-0 advantage, and Larissa is hosted by English club Blackburn following a 2-0 win at home.