Timely Novo nudges Rangers onward

Panathinaikos FC 1-1 Rangers FC(agg: 1-1, Rangers win on away goals) Nacho Novo struck late on to send Scottish challengers Rangers through.

Dimitris Salpingidis (left) challenges Barry Ferguson of Rangers
Dimitris Salpingidis (left) challenges Barry Ferguson of Rangers ©Getty Images

Nacho Novo struck with just nine minutes left to edge Rangers FC past Panathinaikos FC and into the UEFA Cup Round of 16 on away goals.

Late equaliser
Panathinaikos captain Ioannis Goumas had edged the Greek side into what seemed a decisive lead with a fine finish early in the return. But their coach José Peseiro had said that the 0-0 draw in Glasgow last week was a dangerous result for his side, and so it proved as Novo found the target late on, the first man to score an away European goal at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium since Panathinaikos returned there this summer.

Superb strike
From the outset Rangers were under pressure and having already been forced to scramble the ball away more than once, they fell behind in the 12th minute. It was a superb strike, Goumas controlling the ball on his chest outside the box, turning and lifting a shot over Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor and into the net. Goumas nearly repeated the trick shortly afterwards, but McGregor saved and Andreas Ivanschitz also went close.

Sucker punch
The home side were not quite as dominant after the break, but still they remained on top. Goumas threatened with a header and an Ivanschitz shot deflected into the path of Marcelo Mattos, but he was unable to force the ball in from point-blank range. That was punished with aplomb just a few minutes later, as Panathinaikos were unable to fully clear a cross from the right by substitute Chris Burke and although Novo did not make full contact, home goalkeeper Mario Galinović was already commited and the ball bounced in to his right. Shell-shocked Panathinaikos had little time to reply, a Goumas header wide the nearest they came.