Away draw not enough for PAO

Panathinaikos’s chances of progressing to the next round of Champions League in soccer have essentially evaporated following its goalless draw in Russia against Rubin Kazan last night. The 0-0 result leaves Panathinaikos at the bottom of its pool with two points from four games, with two more games to play. The Greeks can now practically hope to only get the third spot from Rubin, which has one more point, in order to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League. The match was incredibly tight though both teams were desperate for victory. Panathinaikos coach Nikos Nioplias opted for a defensive approach, fielding a 5-4-1 formation, with three central defenders. However, chances for either team were few and far between and the game ended without a single goal just as it had between the same sides two weeks ago. The first half’s best chance fell to Rubin but Aleksandr Ryazantsev’s header in the 40th minute was acrobatically parried by Panathinaikos goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas. Rubin became more threatening after the 65th minute, with an injury sustained by Panathinaikos’s central defender Jean-Alain Boumsong, who was substituted. It was Ryazantsev again who narrowly failed to beat Tzorvas in the 78th minute, a couple of minutes after a poor finish by Gilberto Silva in Panathinaikos’s biggest chance in the Rubin box. Substitute Lazaros Christodoulopoulos grabbed a good header seven minutes from time but it went over the bar. He had replaced skipper Giorgos Karagounis, who got booked and will miss the next match, at home against Barcelona on November 24. Three other Greek teams are to play in Europe this week, as tomorrow Aris visits Bayer Leverkusen in Germany, PAOK hosts Villarreal and AEK entertains Anderlecht for the Europa League.