Villarreal win in Greece to advance
© AFP

Argentine midfielder Ariel Ibagaza scored one goal and then turned provider for Joseba Llorente's winner to lift Spanish club Villarreal into the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals after a 2-1 victory at Greek side Panathinaikos. Ibagaza, a surprise starter by Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini, gave the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 49th minute when he took a well-aimed pass from Joan Capdevila to score from up close past Panathinaikos keeper Mario Galinovic.

But Panathinaikos came roaring back to score just six minutes later to delight - albeit briefly - a sellout 60,000 crowd at the Athens Olympic Stadium when striker Vangelis Mantzios headed the ball beyond goalie Diego Lopez's reach after a perfect corner from midfielder Giorgos Karagounis. Mantzios' fourth goal in six Champions League matches made the score 1-1, just as in the first leg of the first knockout round of the competition in Spain.

The winning tally by forward Llorente came in the 70th minute from up close after a nifty pass from Ibagaza split the Panathinaikos defence. Villarreal's win stopped a five-match unbeaten run by Panathinaikos in the competition

The first half was mostly dull, with no threats from either team coming until the 28th minute when Villarreal striker Giuseppe Rossi had an ideal opportunity to score blasting a left-footed shot just outside the penalty box which was deflected wide after hitting two Panathinaikos defenders.

The visitors had a goal ruled out by referee Massimo Busacca in the 35th minute when Ibagaza scored from up close in a mix-up in front of the Panathinaikos goalmouth, but the official ruled that Ibagaza fouled defender Loukas Vintra. The best chance for the home team in the first half came when Mantzios broke away from two defenders after taking a perfect pass from midfielder Simao, but Mantzios' hard, low left-footed shot was deflected by Lopez.