SPORTS

Sad night for Greek clubs in UEFA Cup soccer action

Aris and Panionios both tumbled out of the UEFA Cup on Wednesday night after losing their respective encounters with Bayern Munich and Bordeaux. Draws would have been enough to get both Greek clubs through to the competition’s next stage, the Round of 32, but instead they went out with a sense of tragedy. All looked bright for Panionios early in the game. The Athens club had established an encouraging 2-0 lead by the 20th minute with goals from Rafik Djebbour in the 6th minute and Grigoris Makos 14 minutes later. And there could have been more goals for the host. But the visiting French club, which went into the game having already guaranteed its qualification berth, staged a mighty comeback despite playing with a much-changed side. Fernando Cavenaghi reduced the deficit five minutes before halftime. Both sides squandered scoring chances in the second half. With 15 minutes remaining, Bordeaux leveled with a Benoit Tremoulinas goal. The draw would have been enough – considering there was no change to the scoreline in Galatasaray’s concurrent game against visiting Austria Vienna. But Panionios launched a full-scale attack to be sure. With just the keeper to beat, Marcelo Pietsch should have put Panionios back in the lead. Instead, tragedy struck for the Athens club at the other end with just three minutes to go, with a goal from 19-year-old Wielfried Moimbe. Galatasaray, which eventually drew 0-0, captured third place in Group H for a berth in the Round of 32. Bordeaux topped the group and Helsinborg advanced as runner-up. Aris, which went to Munich requiring a draw against Bayern but returned to Thessaloniki with a 6-0 thrashing, ended fourth in Group F. «We need to focus on our obligations in the Greek league and strive to let this game affect us as least as possible,» said Aris coach Dusan Bajevic. Meanwhile, Olympiakos, which is through to the Champions League’s Round of 16, finds out today who it will confront in the knockout phase.