Udinese late-show stuns Pana
By Alex Livie. Last Updated: 22/11/05 9:30pm
Udinese scored twice in the last ten minutes to pinch an unlikely 2-1 win at Panathinaikos.
The Greeks appeared to be cruising to victory thanks to Costas Charalambides' first-half effort, but they had not banked on Udinese digging deep into their reserves to snatch victory.
Udinese, in their first season in Europe's elite competition, looked down and out until Vincenzo Iaquinta bundled home a leveller and they went on to snatch victory when Vincent Candela lashed home a firecracker from 20 yards.
Udinese are now in pole position to follow Barcelona through from Group C.
Conditions in Athens made fluent football difficult, with torrential rain leaving standing water on sections of the pitch. The home side adapted best and attempted to take advantage of Udinese's shortcomings under the aerial ball.
Time and again lofted balls caused panic in the Italians' box, with Yiannis Goumas a major aerial threat.
Morgan de Sanctis pulled off a fine save from a Goumas header on ten minutes, while Ilias Kotsios headed wide when well placed.
Udinese carry a potent attacking threat of their own and Iaquinta and Antonio Di Natale carved out a number of first half chances.
Iaquinta tricked his way into the box but wasted the chance by taking a touch too many, while Di Natale lashed an effort into the side netting after escaping the attentions of his marker.
It was a similar story at the other end, as Sotirios Leontiou fired just wide after wriggling free inside the Udinese area.
Udinese were exposed aerially once again on 36 minutes, but they rode their luck as Kotsios headed against the bar.
The visitors' good fortune ran out in first half injury time as Leontiou pounced on a sloppy cross-field ball and galloped down the left before delivering a low ball across goal which was prodded home by Charalambides, although Udinese may feel that Felipe should have cut out the cross before it found its way to the Pana goalscorer.
Pana came close to doubling their advantage just after the break as Flavio Conceicao produced a wicked free kick which forced a superb one-handed save from de Sanctis.
Iaquinta had the ball in the back of the net just before hour, but his celebrations were short-lived as the effort was ruled out for offside.
Pana failed to kill off the game and David Di Michele came close to levelling the scores on two occasions but a header and powerful shot just failed to find the target.
The visitors did get themselves back into the game on 79 minutes when Iaquinta prodded home after an almighty scramble in the Pana box.
A header was not properly cleared, Stefano Mauri turned the ball back across goal and a wild clearance hit Iaquinta and flew into the net.
The leveller left Pana in a state of shock and Candela dealt the Greeks a knockout blow on 81 minutes when cutting in from the left and lashing home with his right foot from 20 yards.
Pana fans were stunned into silence as Udinese claimed a most unlikely victory in a rain lashed Athens.
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