Jean-Alain Boumsong and Djibril Cisse were on target as Panathinaikos scraped to a difficult 2-0 win over Panserraikos, Saturday evening at the OAKA Spiros Louis. Though the outfit from Serres produced the better football for large portions of the match, the Greens' efficiency in front of goal proved decisive, as Pana collected full points.
The proceedings had barely started before officials were forced to bring them to a temporary halt on account of crowd problems, with players making their way from the pitch.
Pana emerged from the brief lull the more positive side, Giourkas Seitaridis' nice bit of skill setting up Sidney Govou, whose finishing let him down as he dragged his shot wide.
Even so, the Greens would not need to wait much longer to break through, Boumsong tallying just past the quarter-hour mark. The central defender ran onto Lazaros Christodoulopoulos' free kick and, with his back to goal, flicked a clever header past Velimir Radman.
It would be the last time the hosts would threaten in the first half, as Panserraikos went on to have the better of the play, keeping possession and dictating the flow with their neat, short passing. Giorgos Georgiadis and Nikola Beljic were looking dangerous along the flanks, while Chumbinho and Leozinho combined well in more central positions.
Georgiadis would have the Lions' first chance on 24 minutes, his low shot nearly wrong-footing Alexandros Tzorvas, who scrambled to tip the ball around his post.
There was little respite for the Pana keeper as the visitors continued launching forays, and Maurice Dale came close to rounding off a quick counterattack after Gilberto Silva was caught in possession, breaking free down the right channel but sending his shot inches wide.
Chumbinho signaled his intent soon thereafter, working a clever one-two with a teammate along the edge of the area before scooping his effort over the bar.
The halftime whistle surely came as a relief to Pana boss Jesualdo Ferreira, who reshuffled his lineup, introducing Simao to add steel in the middle of the park. His decision proved a shrewd one, too, as Simao shored up what was a porous midfield and the Greens finally settled.
Indeed, Pana should have doubled their advantage on 67 minutes as Seitaridis reached the byline and picked out Christodoulopoulos, but the former PAOK player failed to get a telling touch from a promising position.
Yet Christodoulopoulos would make amends just two minutes later as the hosts got their second. The 23-year-old picked up the ball and danced through the Panserraikos defense before slipping a pass across the face of goal, where Cisse was on hand to tap home the simplest of finishes.
That all but sealed the result, Pana withstanding their opponent's late pressure to secure the victory.