Cypriot titleholders Anorthosis Famagusta FC celebrated the nation's independence day in style by beating Group B rivals Panathinaikos FC in Nicosia for their country's first win in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
A José Sarriegi own goal and a Siniša Dobrašinović header in the first 15 minutes set Anorthosis on their way, and although Dimitris Salpingidis reduced arrears from the spot, Iraqi substitute Hawar Taher put the result beyond doubt with 12 minutes left. Anorthosis, who defeated Greek champions Olympiacos CFP in the third qualifying round before holding Werder Bremen in Germany on Matchday 1, now have four points and share the group lead with their next opponents, FC Internazionale Milano. Panathinaikos are yet to get off the mark.
The spectators were not to be disappointed by the first-half entertainment and the home fans were already in full voice when an eleventh-minute long throw was headed into his own net by Panathinaikos defender Sarriegi, under pressure from Lukasz Sosin. If that was not enough of a setback for the visitors, four minutes later Sávio delivered a perfect cross from the left into the path of Dobrašinović, who steered a powerful header beyond goalkeeper Mario Galinović.
By now the GSP Stadium was consumed by cheers of joy from the 20,000 Anorthosis supporters, but Panathinaikos responded and nearly forced an own goal at the other end before Salpingidis did pull one back with a penalty in the 28th minute. Home defender Jeffrey Leiwakabessy handled the ball and Salpingidis's spot-kick sent keeper Arian Beqaj the wrong way.
For the rest of the opening period it was all Panathinaikos, as Bryce Moon continued to cause all sorts of problems for Leiwakabessy down the visitors' right flank. However, Temuri Ketsbaia's side were proving a tough nut to crack at the back and Moon was having to cross from deep – delivering balls which Beqaj was happy to collect. Indeed, Anorthosis almost grabbed a third before the interval after Traianos Dellas played a clever one-two with Sosin but drove his shot straight at Galinović.
The second half began in the same fashion as the first had ended, with Henk Ten Cate's Panathinaikos looking the team more likely to score. Cleyton and Lazaros Hristodoulopoulos posed a constant threat around the Anorthosis area, and it was not until the hour mark that the Larnaca outfit were able to show attacking endeavour themselves – Sávio starting to cause headaches for the Panathinaikos back line.
In fact, it was the outstanding Sávio whose corner helped to settle matters against the run of play with 78 minutes on the clock. Taher, a 64th-minute substitute, met the centre with his head and there was no way back for the Greens – anything they could subsequently throw at the Anorthosis rearguard, they did, but all advances were repelled by Dellas and company to seal a famous victory. Panathinaikos will need to pick up points at home to Bremen on 22 October to stay in realistic contention.
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