By Paris Ayiomamitis in Athens
A late goal from Pantelis Konstantinidis gave ten-man Panathinaikos FC a 1-1 draw at home to Rangers FC in UEFA Champions League Group E.
Rangers on top
The midfield player struck two minutes from time to salvage a point for Panathinaikos, who remain bottom of the section with one point from two games. Despite the late setback, Rangers are the new section leaders, having defeated VfB Stuttgart at Ibrox two weeks ago.
Panathinaikos started with long-time absentee Goran Vlaovic in attack in place of the injured Polish striker Emmanuel Olisadebe while Dimitrios Papadopoulos was left on the bench. For their part, Rangers fielded a starting eleven which included no Scottish players.
Arveladze in action
Rangers looked the more dangerous side in the opening stages and missed the first chance of the match three minutes in when Shota Arveladze picked up the ball in the penalty area only for his shot to fly over Konstantinos Chalkias's crossbar. The Glasgow club went close again a few minutes later when a Mikel Arteta free-kick darted across the Panathinaikos goalmouth, but there was no one in a blue shirt on hand to turn the ball into the net.
Vlaovic and Cypriot international Michlais Konstantinou were finding themselves isolated up front. Nevertheless, Panathinaikos went close to scoring after 12 minutes when Vlaovic picked out Silvio Maric in the box and the Croatian let loose a blistering shot only for Arteta to head off the line. Konstantinou then failed to finish after a low cross by Joël Epallé.
Defending with passion
The Scottish side were defending with passion but the hosts went close again on 27 minutes when another Epallé cross eluded the Rangers defence only for Sotirios Kyrgiakos's to miss the target with a header when well placed. Just as Panathinaikos appeared to have established a grip on the game, Rangers silenced the sell-out crowd as, ten minutes before the interval, Emerson slid a cross from Nuno Capucho into the net. Home coach Itzhak Shum's woes were compounded when Kyrgiakos was carried off on a stretcher on the stroke of half-time.
It was the same story after the interval. Panathinaikos failed to make an impact as Alex McLeish's side defended resolutely. The Greens' hopes of a comeback suffered a setback eleven minutes into the second half when Giannis Goumas - who replaced Kyrgiakos at the interval - was sent off after receiving a second yellow card for fouling Arveladze.
Panathinaikos press forward
Shum shuffled his strikers in the 63rd minute, sending on Papadopoulos to replace Vlaovic. Despite their numerical disadvantage, Panathinaikos began to look menacing as Konstandinou's shot was blocked by Klos, while Epallé's curling free-kick a minute later caused confusion in the box.
The home side were unrelenting and could have levelled on 72 minutes as Konstantinidis burst in the area and found Papadopoulos, whose shot was deflected to safety. It seemed Rangers would hold on for a second successive win until Konstantinidis had the final say.