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BBC Sport's Ron Jones
"The 3-1 scoreline hardly tells the full story"
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banner Tuesday, 21 November, 2000, 21:52 GMT
Scholes clinches United win
United celebrate Sheringham's opening goal
United celebrate Sheringham's opening goal
Manchester United 3-1 Panathinaikos

Paul Scholes struck a late double as Manchester United maintained their perfect home record in the Champions League.

Scholes settled the Old Trafford nerves with two goals in the last eight minutes after Georgios Karagounis's magnificent free kick had cancelled out Teddy Sheringham's opener.

Sheringham, whose goal against Dynamo Kiev in the final game of stage one saw United scrape through to the last 16, struck just two minutes into the second half and has now scored in all four of United's Champions League games at Old Trafford this season.

But Karagounis' superb strike midway through the second half threatened to spoil that record - and United's celebrations - before Scholes' late intervention sealed United's win.

The England midfielder was in the perfect place to roll home the loose ball after a mazy Mikael Silvestre run was ended by a fine save from Panathinaikos keeper Antonis Nikopolidis eight minutes from time.

Sheringham salutes his opening goal
Sheringham salutes his opening goal

But Scholes saved the best for last, lobbing a helpless Nikopolidis From the edge of the area after Sheringham's dummy had put him clear.

The feeling or relief following Scholes' 82nd-minute winner was obvious after the Greeks had pushed hard in a bid to become the first side this season to wrestle a Champions League point from Old Trafford.

United boasted an aggregate home record of 9-1 after four straight wins at Old Trafford in the first phase, but the Greeks were not overawed.

In fact, Panathinaikos were clearly intent on ending their own run of four successive defeats on English soil and caused United no end of early problems.

Fabien Barthez twice spared United's blushes, first blocking Nikolaos Liberopoulos' drive after Igor Sypniewski had put him clear and then repeating the trick to deny Krzysztof Warzycha after the striker had outpaced Wes Brown.

But United created a string of chances to silence those ringing alarm bells before half time.

David Beckham almost saw a curling drive outwit Nikopolidis, only for the Greek stopper to change direction and stretch out his left hand at the vital moment.

But United's best two chances of the half both fell to Teddy Sheringham, who saw a low shot blocked by Nikopolidis after Phil Neville had put him clear midway through the first half.

Just before half time, neat build-up play by Nicky Butt and Beckham saw the England captain send in a cross which looked certain to be dispatched by Sheringham, only for the striker to head over the bar after outjumping two Panathinaikos defenders.

Alex Ferguson
Alex Ferguson was left biting his nails

Sheringham was looking to register his ninth successive goalscoring appearance at Old Trafford - and he didn't have to wait too long to reach the landmark.

Two minutes into the second half, Barthez launched a huge punt downfield, which was flicked on by Dwight Yorke and Sheringham outsprinted the surprisingly-cumbersome Henrickson before drilling a fierce low shot into the bottom left-hand corner.

But Panathinaikos equalised shortly afterwards, with 26 minutes left to play.

Butt conceded a free-kick 25 yards out and Karagounis stepped up to thump the ball high past Barthez, who appeared to wander too far off his line.

United turned up the pressure in search of a winner and Nikopolidis was forced to work overtime in the final 20 minutes.

The keeper pushed round Scholes' low drive after the midfielder had wriggled past three challenges on the edge of the area and was then panicked into punching Beckham's penetrating cross as Sheringham and Yorke closed in.

It was hard to tell if the keeper's shock of grey hair was caused by United's late barrage, or whether he came into the game looking that way. Either way, he was left tearing that hair out after seeing his luck finally run out eight minutes from time.

The keeper superbly parried Mikael Silvestre's shot after the left back had made a dazzling run to leave three defenders trailing. But Nikopolidis could only look back in horror as the loose ball rolled into the path of Scholes, who needed no second invitation.

Eight minutes later, Scholes put the icing on the cake with a sublime finish to a compulsive game to leave United in good shape in Group A.

Manchester United: Barthez, P. Neville, Silvestre, G. Neville, Brown, Beckham, Butt, Keane, Scholes, Yorke, Sheringham.
Subs: Van Der Gouw, Irwin, Johnsen, Wallwork, Fortune, Greening, Healy.

Panathinaikos: Nikopolidis, Henriksen, Galetto, Goumas, Warzycha, Sypniewski, Vokolos, Basinas, Nikolidis, Karagounis, Fissas.
Subs: Kotsolis, Olivares, Vlaovic, Nasiopoulos, Koutsoures, Kola, Kiassos.

Referee: Domenico Messiena (Italy).

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Sir Alex FergusonScholes magic
Man Utd boss on the win over Panathinaikos

United's quest for glory

Phase Two hots up
Phase Two hots up

See also:

21 Nov 00 |  Champions League
Fergie hails Scholes magic
21 Nov 00 |  Photo Galleries
Tuesday night football - in pictures
21 Nov 00 |  Champions League
Champions League: Minute-by-minute
21 Nov 00 |  Champions League
Champions League second phase tables
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