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The Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC coach Itzhak Shum endured a disappointing return to Panathinaikos FC as the Greek club profited from two defensive mistakes to open their UEFA Cup Group G campaign with a 2-0 victory.
In a match played behind closed doors at the Athens Olympic Stadium following crowd disturbances at the home leg of their first-round tie against FC Metalurh Zaporizhya, Panathinaikos clinched all three points after Tal Chen put through his own net and Sebastian Romero scored following a mix-up. It was a deserved win for the Greens, who never looked in danger of conceding against a team coached by the man who masterminded their double-winning season in 2003/04.
Romero set the tone when trying his luck inside 20 seconds but the Argentinian winger fired over and was then denied by Shavit Elimelech after 14 minutes, the Hapoel goalkeeper tipping a thunderous volley over the bar. Hapoel's best chance of the opening period was a free-kick from Salim Toema which Pierre Ebede saved, and the Cameroonian was then thankful to see a Walid Badir effort fizz past his left post.
The hosts broke the deadlock two minutes after half-time, as Romero raced on to Loukas Vintra's pass down the right and whipped in a dangerous low cross which Chen turned into his own net as he tried to clear. Panathinaikos looked at ease from then on and it was no surprise when a second goal came after 63 minutes, Romero profiting from some inauspicious defending from Javier Paez and Tomer Haliva by slotting the ball into the bottom corner from close range.
The Israeli visitors tried to press forward in the closing stages but Ibe Zito Ogbonna wasted their best opening as Ebede denied the substitute with a point-blank save. New coach Víctor Muñoz next takes his Panathinaikos team to FK Mladá Boleslav on 2 November, when Hapoel are at home to AFC Rapid Bucuresti.
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