Ajax plot fightback

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The Independent Online
Ajax were quick to warn Panathinaikos against premature celebration after the Greeks' 1-0 victory in Amsterdam on Wednesday in the first leg of their European Cup semi-final.

The European champions wasted wave after wave of attacks and allowed the Greeks to snatch a precious 1-0 away win with a goal from the Polish striker Krysztof Warzycha four minutes from time. It was set up by a surging 30-yard solo run from their fleet-footed winger Yorgos Donis, who slipped the ball through to Warzycha to score.

Louis van Gaal, the Ajax coach, stressed: "Ajax has, in the past, won its away games. You shouldn't start cheering too soon." Juan Ramon Rocha, Panathanaikos' Argentine coach, concurred: "We are a step closer to the final in Rome but at this level the home advantage plays a small role, especially against a team like Ajax. But it was a great night for Greek soccer."

The victory sparked celebrations in Athens where thousands of fans took to the streets for a night-long party with champagne and fireworks. Waving club and Greek flags, the fans brought the city alive, blaring car horns and dancing in central squares and streets.

The other semi-final reached its expected outcome with Juventus beating 10-man Nantes 2-0 to sty on course for next month's final.

The French side were hindered by the dismissal of midfielder Bruno Carotti on the stroke of half-time for his second bookable offence. The defender Serge Le Dizet will also miss the home leg after picking up a second-half booking.

Gianluca Vialli, widely expected to leave Juventus when his contract expires at the end of the season, took advantage by breaking the deadlock with a close-range glancing shot in the 50th minute after Pietro Vierchowod fired the ball into the area.

The Yugoslav midfielder Vladimir Jugovic doubled Juventus' lead in the 66th minute with a powerful shot from the edge of the area.

n The German federation has proposed that payments to a central pool which would benefit all professional clubs should replace transfer fees for out-of-contract players. The federation's league committee made the proposal to a meeting of the country's 36 professional clubs on Tuesday. The committee proposed a transitional transfer system should operate next season and the new pool system would be in place for 1997/98.