Greece put in a fine performance to take the lead in their tie against Romania, but should have perhaps made the scoreline more comfortable after a poor second half from the visitors. Konstantinos Mitroglou bagged a brace, while Dimitris Salpingidis and Bogdan Stancu also got on the scoresheet.
Mitroglu got the hosts off to a great start as he sent the home fans wild with delight by scoring the opener. After a free kick was initially cleared, the Romanian defence stepped up but allowed the Olympiakos man to escape their attention, and he placed a calm finish into the net to give advantage to Greece.
The hosts didn't have the lead for long, however. Romania equalised almost immediately afterwards, also from a set piece. Gabriel Torje's delivery appeared to be heading out of play, but Stancu rose highest and managed to beat Orestis Karnezis at his near post to swing the tie in favour of the visitors.
Yet in a game that was quickly becoming breathless and out of control, Greece incredibly scored again almost straight away. Vasilis Torosidis' low cross found Salpingidis sliding into the area to punish Romania for switching off after scoring, and the Greeks were once again in the lead.
After a frantic start, the game seemed to settle down somewhat, although Torossidis had a great chance with a close-range volley which was spurned. After the break, Greece began to look for a third still, and a nervy goalmouth scramble left the visitors very much on the back foot in the face of the home offensive.
The goal had been coming, and Greece did have their third after, as Mitroglou scored from another set piece, Samaras' delivery being headed on for the Olyampiakos man to volley in from close range and put the hosts back in command of the tie.
Romania seemed to crumble after the goal, and Greece really should have almost killed off the tie with further goals -- first Katsouranis failed to get anything on Torrosidis' cross, before Mitroglou missed a chance to complete his hat trick, not getting enough power on his volley and allowing Bogdan Lobont to make the save.
Yet the final significant action of the night proved to be a red card for Romania, with Costin Lazar picking up a second yellow card for a foul on Holebas to rule himself out of the return leg. It's Greece with the clear advantage for that game in Romania, but Lobont's crucial save against Mitroglou could be a potentially huge moment in this tie, which is still well open for both sides.
Greece: Karnezis, Torossidis, Papastathopoulos, Maniatis (Karagounis 77'), Holebas, Tziolis, Siovas, Katsouranis (Samaris 86'), Salpingidis, Samaras, Mitroglou (Gekas 80').
Goals: Mitroglou 14', 66', Salpingidis 20'
Romania: Lobonţ; Mațel, Goian, Gardoș, Raț, Bourceanu (Lazar 75'), Torje (Grozav 75'), Cocis, Stancu, Tanase (Maxim 87'), Marica.
Goals: Stancu 19'