Motherwell’s Champions League journey came to an abrupt end as they were dumped out of the competition following a 3-0 (5-0 on aggregate) defeat to Panathinaikos in Athens.
The Steelmen headed to Greece having lost the first leg at Fir Park 2-0 last week and goals from Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Charis Mavrias and Ibrahim Sissoko piled further misery on Stuart McCall’s side.
Now Motherwell will drop into Friday’s Europa League qualifying draw, offering at least some consolation to those who made the long trip to Greece from Lanarkshire.
Stuart McCall made two changes to the side that drew 0-0 against Ross County in their SPL opener on Saturday as they sought to overturn a two-goal deficit. Wide-man Chris Humphrey suffered an injury at the weekend and was replaced by Adam Cummins while Henrik Ojamaa came in for Michael Higdon, who dropped to the bench. Panathinaikos had not played a game since beating their opponents in Scotland eight days ago and fielded an unchanged line-up.
The Scots seemed set for a difficult night from the start, and could have found themselves behind in the opening five minutes, with Spanish striker Toche failing to finish from a matter of yards with the goal gaping.
However, as the first half wore on the visitors grew into the contest, with captain Keith Lasley going close with a powerful drive from 25 yards that forced Orestis Karnezis to palm the ball away from goal.
Statistics showed Motherwell were enjoying the better of the possession, but with the Greeks sitting deep in their own half they found it difficult to carve any genuine opportunities.
Winger, Omar Daley saw two shots in quick succession blocked by the Panathinaikos backline before Adam Cummins charged down an effort from Loukas Vyntra as the sides headed into half-time level.
An encouraging opening 45 minutes must’ve given Motherwell’s travelling contingent inside the Athens Olympic Stadium hope, but after the restart the home side began to display their quality, with Simon Ramsden using his head to prevent what would’ve been a certain goal from Sissoko’s attempt.
But Motherwell’s defensive resolve was broken after 50 minutes, when Christodoulopoulos swept a terrific freekick into Randolph’s net after Shaun Hutchinson fouled the goalscorer on the edge of the box.
Panathinaikos continued to press after their opener and could’ve had a penalty, had the match officials spotted Cummins’ hand ball from Sissoko’s cross in the box.
And Randolph pulled off an excellent save from point blanc range, with Toche’s header forcing the Irish keeper into an agile stop on his line.
In what was a familiar combination following Panathinaikos’ opener last week, former Rangers defender Jean-Alain Boumsong came close to flicking Christodoulopoulos’ in-swinging freekick into the net, but his header was too strong and cleared Randolph’s crossbar.
The Greek side introduced Mavrias and Kostas Katsouranis with 20 minutes still to play and within five minutes those changes had taken effect.
At Fir Park, Mavrias scored with his first touch after being brought on. This time, he didn’t quite manage that, but his goal did end the tie as a contest, slotting into the bottom left corner after being allowed by Hutchinson to sprint towards goal without facing a challenge.
Motherwell's miserable night in the Greek capital was completed with seven minutes left to play. After they were dispossessed deep in Panathinaikos' half, Katsouranis broke down the right for the hosts and his cross into the centre was slotted home by Sissoko.
GOAL SCORERS: Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (51 mins), Charis Mavrias (75 mins), Ibrahim Sissoko (83 mins)
MOTHERWELL: Randolph, Hateley, Cummins (Francis-Angol), Hutchinson, Ramsden, Hammell, Daley (Higdon), Law, Lasley, Muprhy, Ojamaa. Subs: Hollis, Carswell, Hetherington, Page.
PANATHINAIKOS: Karnezis, Boumsong, Vyntra, Spyropoulos, Velasquez, Vitolo, Zeca, Marinos (Katsouranis), Sissoko, Toche (Mavrias), Christodoulopoulos (Petropoulos). Subs: Kotsolis, Seitaridis, Fourlanos, Fornaroli.
Referee: Stephan Studer
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