Galatasaray AŞ began their UEFA Europa League campaign in impressive fashion with a superb 3-1 victory away to Panathinaikos FC in Group F.
Brazilian forward Elano scored two goals and set up another for Milan Baroš as Frank Rijkaard's side gave their hosts a masterclass in clinical finishing. The Greens struggled to make an impression until Dimitris Salpingidis struck in the 78th minute, scant consolation for Henk ten Cate's men.
Galatasaray gave an indication of what was to come in the fifth minute, Baroš showing great skill to turn Josu Sarriegi and send over a low cross. There looked little danger when Panathinaikos debutant Marinos, on his birthday, slid in to intercept but the ball fell to Elano who tapped in from close range.
The pace and movement of Elano and Baroš caused constant problems for the home rearguard, typified by the second goal three minutes after the break when the Czech international collected a precise pass from his team-mate, rounded Mario Galinović and rolled the ball into the empty net. Two became three on 58, Elano's low free-kick from range deflecting off Sarriegi and into Galinović's bottom-right corner.
The hosts mounted a late assault on the visiting defence with substitute Sotiris Ninis a key figure, the Greek international winger testing the reflexes of Leo Franco in the visiting goal on several occasions. The goalkeeper was finally beaten with 12 minutes to play when Salpingidis raced on to Giorgos Karagounis's pass and slotted the ball in.
Panathinaikos will need to improve when they travel to Romania to tackle FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti – 1-0 winners away to SK Sturm Graz – in two weeks' time, when Galatasaray AŞ take on the Austrian team in Istanbul.