R. Standard de Liège recorded their first European away victory in seven attempts, stunning Panathinaikos FC in Athens to put themselves in the ascendancy in their UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie.
Axel Witsel headed home after just eight minutes and Milan Jovanović swiftly added another. Loukas Vintra pulled one back for the hosts with a diving header after half-time, but Igor De Camargo restored the two-goal cushion to put the visitors in the driving seat ahead of next Thursday's second leg at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne.
Panathinaikos began at a frantic pace, Djibril Cissé's free-kick testing the reflexes of Sinan Bolat in the second minute. The Greens looked full of confidence, like a side that had not conceded in their last three home games against Belgian sides – then Standard struck on their first attack. Jovanović sent Dieudonné Mbokani scampering down the left and his pinpoint cross was nodded in by Witsel.
It was 2-0 on 16 minutes as Steven Defour's superb through ball released Jovanović. The Serbia striker skipped past Panathinaikos goalkeeper Mario Galinović before rolling the ball into the bottom right corner. The hosts, disjointed and lacking creativity, looked a shadow of the team which defeated AS Roma twice in the last 32.
Nikos Nioplias brought on Giorgos Karagounis and Dimitris Salpingidis at half-time, and the latter had an instant impact, providing a free-kick for Vintra to head home at the far post. But any hopes of a comeback were extinguished 16 minutes from time when De Camargo, on the counterattack, slotted past Galinović after being played in by the irrepressible Jovanović.
Panathinaikos' miserable night was to get worse. Forced to play the final 13 minutes with ten players as Filippos Darlas limped off injured after the Greens had made their allotted substitutions, they were down to nine by the end as Simão received a second yellow card in added time.