- Blown Opportunity for Panathinaikos -
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - GROUP STAGE (GROUP G)
|Panathinaikos||1 - 2||Ajax|
Panathinaikos took the lead against Ajax but two clumsy mistakes allowed the Dutch giants to leave with a 1-2 away win in the opening match of the Europa League Group Stage. Berg opened the score in the 6th minute for the hosts, Traore equalized, and Riedewald gave Ajax the victory.
Panathinaikos got off to a dream start against Ajax when Marcus Berg opened the score in the 6th minute. Wakaso’s cross was cleared by Ajax’s keeper with the ball falling to Lod, who found Berg in front of an open net and the Swedish striker gave the hosts the 1-0 lead. After the goal, Panathinaikos continued their pressure, mainly from the left wing, keeping Ajax pinned in their own half. However in the 34th minute, an awful mistake from Ivanov turned into an assist for Traore who was left in on goal, beating Steele on his near post to bring Ajax level. The goal “sparked” the visitors as they came extremely close to second, with Steele making a tremendous save on the line to deny Sanchez a sure goal. Both teams had opportunities to take the lead before halftime, but fell unlucky and the score remained 1-1 at the break.
The first part of the second half went without notable chances, however in the 66th minute, Ajax was awarded a penalty after a clumsy challenge from Mesto. From the spot, Klaasen was denied by Steele and Riedewald turned in the rebound to give Ajax the lead. Minutes later, Panathinaikos was left with 10-men when Ivanov was given a second yellow card. From the ensuing free-kick, Steele’s save kept Panathinaikos within one goal. With 11 minutes remaining, Ajax lost their man advantage after Zieyach was sent off with a second yellow. Panathinaikos came close to an equalizer on two chances, first with Berg’s cross/shot that was well saved by Onana and in stoppage time Moledo could not turn a free-header from Villafanez’s free-kick into the back of the net. Before Moledo’s opportunity, Wakaso became the third player to be sent off on the night with his second yellow of the game. With Panathinaikos pressed forward, Ajax had opportunities to score a third, but failed to do so and came away with a 1-2 victory.
This is Panathinaikos’ first defeat of the season. The Prasini will see today’s match as a missed opportunity to begin the Europa League on a positive note. Despite taking the early lead, clumsy mistakes from Ivanov and Mesto gave Ajax the ability to overturn the result and leave with the victory and all three points.
In the other group match Standard Liege and Celta played to a 1-1 draw, a result that favors Panathinaikos. In matchday 2, Panathinaikos will travel to Spain to face Celta, while Ajax hosts Standard Liege.