Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and substitute Charis Mavrias condemned Motherwell FC to defeat on their UEFA Champions League debut and gave Panathinaikos FC a two-goal lead to take into next week's second leg in Athens.
Although the hosts started the third qualifying round tie brightly, Panathinaikos took the lead thanks to Christodoulopoulos's 14th-minute free-kick. Motherwell twice came close to an equaliser but the Greek side doubled their advantage through Mavrias with just under a quarter of an hour remaining.
Spurred on by a vocal home support, who were watching their team in the competition for the first time, Motherwell came close to opening the scoring on ten minutes through Chris Humphrey, whose effort flew just over the crossbar. It did not take long, though, for Jesualdo Ferreira's charges to assert their authority. They were ahead on 14 minutes when Christodoulopoulos's free-kick evaded the wall and Darren Randolph in the Motherwell goal.
Steelmen captain Keith Lasley had a wonderful opportunity to equalise in the 26th minute but failed to convert when one-on-one with goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis. Nicky Law forced Karnezis into a smart double save 11 minutes into the second half but, as Stuart McCall's men pushed forward, the Greens hit them on the break. Mavrias had been on the pitch less than 60 seconds when he put the finishing touch to a flowing breakaway move.
Ibrahim Sissoko, who was impressive throughout, presented Bruno Fornaroli with a great chance to extend Panathinaikos' lead in the final minute only for the substitute to fire over.