Ave Panathinaikos, Roma salutes you

Roma bowed to the might of Panathinaikos last night as the Greek representative in soccer’s Europa League again won 3-2, this time in Italy, to reach the last 16 of the competition. The Greens won the tie 6-4 on aggregate and will face either Salzburg or Standard Liege in the next round. Leading Panathinaikos to this Roman triumph were scorer of two Djibril Cisse and Sotiris Ninis, who scored one goal and set up another. Roma led after just over 10 minutes as John Arne Riise unleashed a powerful 30-meter shot that was deflected off the back of Panathinaikos defender Stergos Marinos and then the left post of Greek keeper Alexandros Tzorvas to end up in the net. Panathinaikos had a couple of good chances in the first half-hour as Cisse narrowly failed to make decent contact with the ball at the edge of the 6-yard box with only the goalkeeper to beat, while Simao’s shot in the 24th minute went agonizingly wide of Doni’s right post. Cisse made it 1-1 from the spot six minutes before halftime after Ninis was fouled inside the box by Daniele De Rossi. Four minutes later Ninis stole the ball 10 meters outside the box and sent his right-foot shot bouncing past Doni and into the net to give the Greeks the lead. And as if that wasn’t enough, Ninis took the ball again on the halfway line, toyed with Roma’s Matteo Brighi before feeding it to Cisse on the right who managed to slot the ball in from a tight angle in first-half stoppage time. De Rossi made it 2-3 in the 67th minute when he picked up the ball from a Tzorvas clearance and the Greek defenders were slow to react. Two minutes later, the Greens almost made it 2-4 as Costas Katsouranis and then Dimitris Salpigidis hit the woodwork from close range. Roma kept asking questions of the Greek defense for the rest of the game, but needed to score a total of five goals on the night in order to overturn the visitor’s advantage. In the 90th minute Panathinaikos was left with 10 men as Katsouranis received a second booking and he will miss the first match of the next round.

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