Football: Signori steers Bologna through

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The Independent Online
BOLOGNA BEAT Slavia Prague 2-0 with two late goals in their second round, second leg Uefa Cup match in Prague yesterday, advancing to the third round by a 4-1 aggregate margin.

Braving cold weather at the Strahov stadium near Prague castle, Bologna were under pressure in the early stages but, for the rest of the first half, the Italians were more active, missing several chances to score. Lubos Kozel cleared off the line in the 33rd minute. Slavia's best chance of the half came in the penultimate minute of the period, when Pavel Horvath hit the post.

For most of the second half, Slavia were on top but they missed some clear chances to score. The first goal came in the 80th minute, when Bologna's Giuseppe Signori, the former Lazio striker, scored from a precise pass from Amedeo Mangone. Massimo Cappioli added the second six minutes later.

In the Champions' League tonight, Panathinaikos must beat Lens at home in Group E to sustain their quarter-final hopes. The Greeks believe the return of two leading players will give them the edge.

"We play the entire European season on Wednesday," their coach, Vassilis Daniil, said. "There is no tomorrow with this match and we want nothing but victory."

Panathinaikos, who are third in the group, two points behind Arsenal and Lens, want revenge for their 1-0 loss in France. With an away game at Dynamo Kiev and a home match against Arsenal to come, they know that they must win this one. They warmed up with a 2-1 victory over Panionios at the weekend - they lead the Greek First Division.

The Polish international striker Krzystof Warzycha, the club's top scorer for the past five years, will return after a month's absence with a leg injury. "Warzycha has fully recovered, but he has missed a number of games. However, he has the experience to damage Lens and this is what we expect him to do," Daniil said.

The suspended midfielder Vladan Milojevic is also back, along with the former Derby playmaker Aljosa Asanovic. They will look to feed Warzycha and his fellow striker Nikos Lyberopoulos, who scored against Panionios.

"Some may believe that Lens are a weak team - but they forget they are the French champions and remain unbeaten in Europe. We must be serious, determined and avoid the mistakes we made in France," Daniil said.

Lens have grown in confidence after draws against Arsenal and in Kiev and will have to draw on that new-found experience to shut out the 70,000 fervent Greek fans expected to pack the Olympic stadium.

"We feel comfortable in this Champions' League," said the Lens midfielder Michael Debeve. "When we entered the competition we were afraid of being the weakest side of the group, but we proved that we deserved to be here. But I'm sure this game will be a nightmare because of the public. It's always difficult to play before such a hostile crowd."