UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - 2ND QUALIFYING ROUND (LEG 1)
|Panionios||2 - 0||ND Gorica|
|Yesil 12', 47'|
Panionios made a winning return to European football after a nine-year absence on Thursday with a comfortable 2-0 home victory over Slovenian outfit Gorica in the first leg of the Nea Smyrni club’s UEFA Europa League second qualifying round tie.
Samed Yesil scored a goal in each half to settle a one-sided affair at the Nea Smyrni stadium, with the scoreline flattering the visitors, who were second best for virtually the entire match.
Michail Grigoriou’s Panionios team missed a hatful of chances in the opening 45 minutes in which they dominated. The visitors suffered a major blow on the stroke of half-time when central defender Tine Kavcic was rightly red carded for a foul on Yesil.
Panionios made a strong start and deservedly opened the scoring in the 12th minute through Yesil, who skipped past a couple of defenders before drilling home a low shot.
Masouras then passed up two chances in quick succession to double his team’s advantage, with defender Yaya Banana also saw a headed effort thwarted by Gorica goalkeeper Grega Sorcan’s superb save.
The hosts were then given a huge boost when Kavcic was sent off for a professional foul on Yesil who was clean through on goal.
Panionios continued to boss the match in the second half on a night when so many of their players were eager to impress, with attacking midfield due Lazaros Lamprou and Masoud Shojaei particularly standing out.
It was Shojaei who sent Yesil racing into the box to complete a clinical finish to make it 2-0 just two minutes into the second half.
There were few bright spots for Gorica, who are coached by Miran Srebrnic. The Sovenians struggled to gain meaningful possession and threaten Matic Kotnik’s Panionios goal.
The last time the Panthers were in Europe was the 2007/08 season in the then UEFA Cup group stages.
The omens do not bode well ahead of next week’s second leg for Gorica, who have previously been eliminated from Europe by two other Greek sides: Panathinaikos (1999/00) and AEK Athens (2004/05).