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Mantzios preserves Panionios's hopes

Wednesday, 1 December 2004

By Dmitra Pappa at Nea Smyrni stadium

[1] Greek Under-21 international Evagelos Mantzios scored a hat-trick in 19 second-half minutes to keep alive Panionios NFC's slim hopes of qualifying for the last 32 of the UEFA Cup with a thumping 5-2 win against FC Dinamo Tbilisi, who ended their Group D campaign without a single point.

Panionios rampant

[2] Dinamo led at the break through Mikheil Kakaladze's opportunistic strike. And not long before the hour Lado Akhalaia restored their lead just moments after Mantzios had levelled for the home side. But thereafter it was all Panionios, Mantzios completing his hat-trick before added-time strikes by Mário Breška and Karlos Marcora rounded out the scoring.

Quiet start

[3] Panionios seemed completely off the pace in an uneventful first half in which a lively Dinamo side controlled the play. And the buoyant home crowd were silenced on 38 minutes, when Dato Kvirkvelia broke down the left and saw his shot diverted in off the knee of Kakaladze. It was Dinamo's first goal in the group stage.

Key change

[4] But the match burst into life in the second half. Home coach Georgios Vazakas replaced Australian defender Travis Dodd with the pacy Breška, and it was not long before the Slovakian playmaker took over. An equaliser was only a matter of time, and on 58 minutes, Mantzios provided it, following up after Fanourios Goundoulakis' shot had been saved.

Goals exchanged

[5] Dinamo struck back just a minute later when Levan Melkadze broke free down the left and his cross was met by Akhalaia, who made it 2-1 from close range. The lead lasted just eight minutes, though, thanks to Mantzios' delightful lob.

Draw worthless

[6] The game was perfectly poised, although a draw was no good to either side, especially the Georgian team for whom this was the last of four qualifying games. But Dinamo wasted numerous chances, and seemed to lose hope with each. Panionios, on the other hand, knew they still had more than pride to play for.

Points sealed

[7] Mantzios completed his hat-trick, finishing off some fabulous play by Uruguayan midfield player Karlos Marcora on 77 minutes. As the home side sought to improve their goal difference, first the mercurial Breška and then Marcora, with a lucky deflection, added to point-less Dinamo's woes.

Still hopeful

[8] Panionios now travel to FC Sochaux-Montbéliard, who improved their own hopes of following group leaders Newcastle United FC into the next stage by winning 1-0 away to Sporting Clube de Portugal. Another victory will be required if they are to stand any chance of progressing.

Mário Breška celebrates a Panionios goal