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Salpingidis spot-kick sees off Sturm

Panathinaikos FC 1-0 SK Sturm Graz
A Dimitris Salpingidis penalty on the hour was enough to give Panathinaikos victory in a Group F game that burst into life after the goal.

Dimitris Salpingidis celebrates his winner
Dimitris Salpingidis celebrates his winner ©Getty Images

A Dimitris Salpingidis penalty on the hour mark was enough to give Panathinaikos FC victory against SK Sturm Graz in a game that burst into life after the goal.

Exciting spell
There had been few efforts of note before Salpingidis was tripped in the box and stepped up to convert the spot-kick, but within minutes both sides had hit the post and home goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas had made vital saves. Sturm, bottom of UEFA Europa League Group F, duly fell five points behind second-placed Panathinaikos ahead of the teams' 5 November encounter in Austria.

Muratović miss
Having kick-started their campaign with a 1-0 win at FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti on Matchday 2, Panathinaikos held the initiative at kick-off and were dominant early on without creating clear-cut chances. However, Sturm actually came closest to breaking the deadlock before the interval when Manuel Weber ran on to Samir Muratović's pass but blazed over with only Tzorvas to beat.

The second period followed a similar pattern until, just before the hour, Loukas Vintra stung the hands of Sturm goalkeeper Christian Gratzei with strong shot and on their next attack Panathinaikos won a penalty. Mario Sonnleitner tripped Salpingidis as he entered the area and the striker stepped up to produce a spot-kick to the left that eluded Gratzei's dive. Sturm's deficit was nearly short-lived as a high Muratović free-kick was headed against the post by Gordon Schildenfeld.

Tzorvas saves
Giorgos Karagounis went straight up the other end and from distance his strike drifted beyond the outstretched Gratzei and also rebounded off the woodwork. Tzorvas then had to make a triple stop – two from Daniel Beichler, one denying Sonnleitner – after another free-kick, this time from substitute Jakob Jantscher, cut through the Panathinaikos rearguard. However, Sturm could not maintain the pressure.