FC Porto ended Panathinaikos FC's 100 per cent home record in this season's UEFA Champions League by holding out for a 0-0 draw at the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium.
The Greek side were triumphant in all three of their home games in the first group stage, but found their gritty Group C rivals were just too resilient, particularly during a first-half onslaught. Coach Ioannis Kirastas can take heart from the fact a foreign team is still to score at Panathinaikos this season, but he is fully aware of the importance of winning at home and will regard this result as two points dropped.
Panathinaikos dominated the game, especially in the first half when strikers Emmanuel Olisadebe and Michael Konstantinou were at their most threatening. Konstantinou was a constant thorn in the side of the visitors’ defence and came close to breaking the deadlock on 26 minutes when Ricardo Carvalho's sliding challenge denied him a clear shooting opportunity. A minute before the interval, the powerful centre forward flicked the ball into the path of Olisadebe who failed to find the target from eight metres out.
The closest Porto came in the first period was a cheeky effort from Deco whose shot from a tight angle nearly embarrassed Antonios Nikopolidis. However, the goalkeeper reacted in time to make a fine save. In the main, the Portuguese side were on the defensive and they appeared relieved to hear the half-time whistle.
Panathinaikos maintained the momentum in the early exchanges of the second half. Kostantinou flashed a shot across the face of goal before their best opportunity of the match fell to Olisadebe in the 58th minute. The Polish striker’s first-time shot, following good work by Panagiotis Fissas, struck the foot of the post.
That near-miss seemed to deflate the hosts whose efforts were increasingly frustrated by a determined rearguard action led by the flawless Ricardo Carvalho. Porto defended deep inside their own half and chose to play on the break with the Brazilian Clayton always willing to try the unexpected. In the last half an hour, they looked relaxed and in control as they comfortably held out for a point.