Nenad Jestrovic struck twice for RSC Anderlecht in this UEFA Cup fourth round second-leg victory at the Constant Vanden Stock stadium on Thursday. However, it was not enough to see the Belgian side through as Panathinaikos FC survived a late rally to advance 3-2 on aggregate and set up a quarter-final meeting with FC Porto.
Vokolos sent off
First-leg goals from Nikos Lyberopoulos and Emmanuel Olisadebe, who scored twice, proved just enough for Sergio Markarian's side who were forced to dig deep to contain Anderlecht, who went on the offensive after Leonidas Vokolos had been sent off for a second bookable offence just before the break.
Jestrovic put Anderlecht ahead on the night on 71 minutes with a fine strike and doubled the lead ten minutes later to set up a grandstand finish. Aleksandar Ilic, Aruna Dindane and Jestrovic all had chances to add to the home side's lead, but Panathinaikos held firm. Visiting numbers were further depleted in the dying stages when Pantelis Konstantinidis was ordered off, but despite their late pressure, Anderlecht were unable to force extra time.
Markarian was delighted to see Panathinaikos progress through to the quarter-finals, but admitted his side had ridden their luck. "
I'm very happy to reach the last eight of the UEFA Cup a year on from reaching the quarter-finals of the [UEFA] Champions League," he said. "I actually feel quite lucky about the result. It was much tougher than I expected, especially because from halfway through the first half we had to play with ten men. The match was completely different before and after the [first] sending off. Up until the red card we were in control but afterwards it was difficult to contain them."
The Anderlecht coach, Hugo Broos, took solace from the fact that his charges had bowed out on a positive note. "I'm very happy that we produced such a performance after our last two defeats," he said. "There have been so many negative things being said about us and the supposedly bad communication between me and the players. This is the kind of result we can achieve if everybody pulls together.
"We were so close to the third goal tonight. Aleksander Ilic and Aruna Dindane both went close and Jestrovic very nearly got the third. We absolutely must finish second in the league to qualify for the Champions League next season."
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