Champions League Qualifiers review - Panathinaikos vs Standard Liege
After the first leg ended with a scoreless draw, Standard had the daunting task ahead of them of qualifying in the Greek stronghold of Panathinaikos.
That stronghold however seemed to be crumbling a bit, for Panathinaikos did not start the game all that well, with sloppy attacks and inefficient passing. Standard held their own for the first twenty minutes, until the first goal fell. Panathinaikos player Berg crossed it in, and Standard defender Arslanagic beat his own keeper. Standard’s bad luck did not end there, Mujangi Bia had to be subbed out for Mpoku because of an injury a few minutes later.
The tide shifted shortly after the thirty minute mark, when Carcela sent Mbombo downfield, who cheekily chipped it over Kotsolis. The score was levelled, but that wasn’t enough for Standard, they wanted a win. Panathinaikos nearly fell a man short when Triantafyllopoulos took down Mpoku, but got off with a warning.
Mpoku’s vengeance was sweet and swift, putting Standard in front with an amazing curl in the top corner.
The second half featured Standard controlling the match, choosing to rather keep their lead than try to enhance it. For a long while, the plan seemed to work, until Panathinaikos came charging in for a final offensive. Two chances in short succession, twice hitting the bar. The Greeks pushed Standard back completely, monopolizing the ball and the game. Kawashima, playing outstandingly in the Pro League as well, made several crucial saves, and sat out the storm alongside his team-mates.
Showing incredible resilience and fighting spirit – and with a good portion of luck – Standard managed to qualify for the final qualifying round of the Champions League. Whoever will turn out to be their next opponents, it will be an enormous challenge for Luzon’s braves.
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