Djibril Cissé scored two late goals as Panathinaikos FC beat FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti 3-0 to secure second in Group F, earning Nikolaos Nioplias a charmed introduction to the UEFA Europa League.
The hosts forged ahead nine minutes after the interval with a goal heavier on significance than style. Loukas Vintra's up-and-under looked hopeful at best but goalkeeper Emilian Dolha contrived to drop it and the lurking Ante Rukavina could not miss. Needing two goals to progress at their opponents' expense Dinamo went on the attack, hitting the crossbar for a second time before Cissé struck twice himself in the last ten minutes to see Panathinaikos through.
Moţi v Cissé
The Greens needed only to avoid defeat to be certain of a place in Friday's round of 32 draw, but with recently-installed coach Nioplias's pre-match talk of victory ringing in their ears, they began with great intensity. Three times Cosmin Moţi denied Cissé with well-timed blocks and tackles, though even when the Frenchman did escape his attentive warden midway through the first period he contrived to lash wastefully into the side-netting.
Yet for all their dominance, the Greek side almost went in at half-time 1-0 down. A free-kick from distance looked innocuous enough, but nobody tracked Marius Niculae's overlapping run and the Dinamo captain's cross found Ousmane N'Doye at the back post, Alexandros Tzorvas tipping his header against the crossbar. It served a stark warning, and Panathinaikos were unsure until Rukavina finally broke the deadlock.
Dinamo went down fighting, completely changing tack as solid defence made way for attacking fluidity. Before the hour Tzorvas just did enough to divert Gabriel Tamaş's vicious half-volley against the bar, and Adrian Cristea also tested the keeper from distance. Cissé allayed home fears, however, heading in substitute Sebastian Leto's cross from the left and then, five minutes later, steering in a right-wing centre from another replacement, Dimitris Salpingidis.