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Helstad heroics come too late

Wednesday, 24 November 2004

By Michael Harrold

[1] Two goals from substitute Thorstein Helstad earned Rosenborg BK the second point of their UEFA Champions League Group E campaign, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Norwegian champions from crashing out of European competition as the draw made sure of at least a UEFA Cup place for Panathiniakos FC.

Helstad double

[2] The Greek champions looked on course to repeat their Matchday 1 victory against Rosenborg when Michael Konstantinou scored on 16 minutes. But Helstad, on as a 56th-minute substitute, hit back on 68 minutes. Rudolf Skácel restored Panathinaikos' lead four minutes later, but Helstad struck again to earn Rosenborg a point.

Hansen debut

[3] New Rosenborg coach Per Joar Hansen, in charge of his first Champions League match since replacing Ola By Rise, made two changes from the team defeated by PSV Eindhoven on Matchday 4. Robbie Russell and Fredrik Winsnes made way for Daniel Braaten and Harald Brattbakk, who started as a lone striker with with Øyvind Storflor and Daniel Braaten on the wings.

Konstantinidis back

[4] Panathinaikos coach Zdnek Šcasný made one change from the side that overcame Kallithea FC 1-0 on Saturday to remain top of the Alpha Ethniki. Striker Pantelis Konstantinidis replaced Maciej Bykowski, while Konstantinou recovered from an eye problem in time to start. Markus Münch (knee) and Dimitris Papadopoulos (ankle) missed out.

Scrappy start

[5] Šcasný was concerned prior to the match that freezing conditions would make life difficult for his side. But it was the pitch that was worst affected as the temperature rose and snow gave way to pouring rain. A muddy band down one side congested play in the middle and made for a scrappy first half on a water-logged surface.

González sparkles

[6] Even so, the Greek champions looked to keep the ball on the ground and Argentinian playmaker Ezequiel González was influential. On 13 minutes he came close to finding Konstantinou with a clever through ball, but Mikael Dorsin cleared. Three minutes later González found his man. His brilliant touch freed Konstantinou down the left and he shot low beyond Espen Johnsen's right hand from ten metres to put Pananthinaikos in front.

Panathinaikos chances

[7] Panathinaikos were in the ascendancy and created further chances, Sotirios Kyrgiakos heading over from five metres on 23 minutes, then Konstantinou shot weakly at Espen Johnsen after Pantelis Konstantinidis had broken through the Rosenborg defence.

Braaten shot

[8] Rosenborg, looking for their first Champions League win in 12 attempts, offered little in attack, though they did press forward as the half drew to a close. Braaten volleyed wide on 38 minutes then Brattbakk missed the target in rare glimpses of the Panathiniakos goal.

Helstad equaliser

[9] Rosenborg started the second half playing some tidy football. On 58 minutes Jan Gunnar Solli tested Konstantinos Chalkias with a long-range drive, then on 63 minutes Brattbakk and Solli combined brilliantly down the left, but Brattbakk's shot from close in was blocked. The pressure told on 68 minutes. Ståle Stensaas crossed low from the left and Helstad touched in at the near post.

Skácel goal

[10] Within four minutes, however, a defensive lapse gifted the lead back to Panathinaikos. Espen Johnsen's attempted clearance hit Odd Inge Olsen on the back and fell invitingly to Rudolf Skácel, who tapped in.

Helstad again

[11] Rosenborg battled back for a second time and on 76 minutes Helstad was again the hero for the home fans, following up a rebound after Chalkias had saved his initial header to score. The substitute almost completed his hat-trick in the final minute, but shot over with Chalkias beaten as Panathinaikos secured the draw that keeps them within a point of second-placed Arsenal FC.

Angelos Basinas (left) vies with Rosenborg's Roar Strand