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Cissé takes heart for Roma decider

Match-winner Djibril Cissé called Panathinaikos FC's 3-2 triumph against AS Roma "a very important win", adding that his side had no reason to be anxious before the second leg in Italy.

Djibril Cissé celebrates scoring the late winner against Roma
Djibril Cissé celebrates scoring the late winner against Roma ©AFP

Panathinaikos FC match-winner Djibril Cissé reflected on an "important victory" after the Greek side defeated AS Roma 3-2 in a dramatic first-leg tie in Athens – but admitted the work is far from finished.

Cissé sealed a determined Panathinaikos fightback with a late header as the Greens ended their Italian opponents' 20-match unbeaten run at the OACA Spiros Louis Stadium in the UEFA Europa League round of 32. "I'm very satisfied with our performance and the way we responded," said the French international. "It was a very important victory, although our job is not done. We have a difficult game ahead at the Stadio Olimpico."

Next Thursday's return match in Rome promises more thrills and spills on the evidence of this contest, in which Panathinaikos came from behind twice before downing Claudio Ranieri's men with Cissé's 89th-minute strike. Despite Roma having two away goals in their favour, Cissé is optimistic about the final outcome. "We are not anxious, even though Roma are very strong at home," the 28-year-old added. "We are also a strong away team and we will go there looking to get through to the next round."

Panathinaikos defender Josu Sarriegi put the impressive result down to team spirit. "It was our heart that won us the match," he told UEFA.com. "Sometimes football is crazy and tonight was one of those examples." Mirko Vučinić's fine strike put Roma ahead in the first half, but Dimitris Salpingidis came off the bench to equalise from close range. David Pizarro's penalty then restored Roma's lead nine minutes from time, only for another Panathinaikos substitute, Lazaros Hristodoulopoulos, to level before Cissé nodded in a Salpingidis cross.

"I think after we conceded the penalty and went 2-1 down, no one thought we would be able to come back but we continued to go forward, got a little lucky and scored two goals," Sarriegi continued. "I still can't explain how we managed it, but we did and it is a great morale boost for the game in Italy. We have a good chance to go through even though we face a tough night in Rome. We believe in our ability."