Andraž Šporar (foto: /)
In the opening match of the Europa League, Slovenian forward star for Panathinaikos scored a crucial goal in a win against Spanish Villarreal, with an assist from his national teammate.
As part of the Europa League's initial phase, Greek vice-champions Panathinaikos performed excellently. The Green-Whites played at home in the first round, and the Spyros Louis stadium witnessed great joy as the Greek giants secured their first victory.
Panathinaikos defeated the visiting team Villarreal 2:0. Fotis Ioannidis provided the first celebration in the 38th minute, scoring from a pass by Giannis Kotsiras. In the 78th minute, the Greeks sealed the win with a move that had a strong Slovenian touch. Midfielder Adam Gnezda Čerin provided the assist, and the striking goal came from another Slovenian national team member in the club, forward Andraž Šporar.
The Ljubljana native entered the game from the bench, replacing the first scorer Ioannidis after about an hour, while midfielder Gnezda Čerin played the entire match. Benjamin Verbič was not in the Green-Whites' squad this time.
Šporar's goal built upon his highly successful recent national team action, where he scored two crucial goals in the European Championship qualifiers against Northern Ireland, leading Slovenia to victory.
The good form of both national team members is encouraging, as Slovenia will regroup for two more crucial matches in mid-October. Panathinaikos will face their next challenge on Monday when they play against city rivals AEK in their home league at their stadium.