Despite creating a host of great chances, Rangers FC could not breach a resilient Panathinaikos FC in a goalless draw at Ibrox.
Nacho Novo had three gilt-edged opportunities to settle this UEFA Cup Round of 32 first leg but could not take advantage while away goalkeeper Mario Galinović had a superb game for the visitors.
In a lively opening period, Rangers had the first effort on target as Novo's low shot sent Galinović scrambling across his goal to save in the third minute. Steven Davis then forced an even better save from the visiting keeper with a rasping 30-metre drive. The Greek side were mainly restricted to long-range shots and on the two first-half occasions they did get behind the home defence, they could not find a telling cross.
With half-an-hour gone, Novo burst into the box following a miskick from Ioannis Goumas but Galinović saved with his feet. Then, two minutes before half-time, Novo latched on to a superb long pass from Davis, controlled instantly, but the Panathinaikos goalkeeper was there again to deny the Spanish striker. Rangers renewed their efforts after the break and Lee McCulloch just missed the target with a bullet header on 48 minutes. However, as the second half progressed, the Greek Super League leaders came more into the game and had their first shot on target when Loukas Vintra struck straight at Allan McGregor.
Then, with 20 minutes left, came Rangers' best moment as Barry Ferguson's fierce left-footed volley was brilliantly parried by Galinović who then denied a tame Novo effort from the rebound. Home substitute Daniel Cousin saw a header go just wide 13 minutes from time before Panathinaikos' best chance of the night fell to Dame Ndoye who struck straight at McGregor after the goalkeeper had parried a cross to him. The two sides will now meet in Athens on 21 February for the second-leg decider.
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