Playoff Battle Tightens (Matchday 19 Recap)

Playoff Battle Tightens
(MATCHDAY 19 RECAP)

 

Olympiacos took yet another step toward the title in Matchday 19 action of the 2016/17 Greek SuperLeague. Paulo Bento’s men easily disposed of Iraklis 3-0 to keep their 13-point lead at the top of the standings intact. 

Panionios defeated Xanthi 2-0 in the AGONAsport Match of the Week. Vladan Milojevic’s team well deserved their win that keeps them in 2nd place. The Nea Smyrni club share the second spot in the table with PAOK who overcame Asteras Tripolis 3-2 in Thessaloniki. The back-and-forth affair easily the best match of the weekend and a contender for one of the best of the season.

AEK continued their rampant form as they destroyed Veria 6-0, putting them very much back in the playoff hunt. Panathinaikos’ performance was an improvement, but another draw (1-1), this time against PAS Giannina meant another disappointing weekend for the club. 

Panetolikos were back amongst the wins as they defeated Atromitos 2-0. Meanwhile, it was a share of the spoils in Larisa as the home side could only draw with Kerkyra 1-1.

On Monday, Levadiakos came up short in their bid for a first win in over two months as they lost at home to Platanias 2-1. 

*For the current SuperLeague standings click here or visit the Greek SuperLeague home page for more.


PAOK - ASTERAS TRIPOLIS

PAOK 3 - 2 Asteras Tripolis
Shakhov 28'
Prijovic 70'
Henrique 84'
Manias 18', 79'


In one of the top Greek SuperLeague games of the season, PAOK used a late goal to beat Asteras Tripolis 3-2. It was a great game at Toumba with both sides contributing to a gripping affair. The victory is PAOK’s 12th win in 13 matches leaving them tied with Panionios for 2nd in the table. Asteras will surely climb the standings if they repeat performances like this one despite the defeat.

Michalis Manias was the main man for Asteras scoring his first goals for the club. He opened the scoring just 18 minutes in, his snapshot beating Panagiotis Glykos after a nifty pass from Stavros Tsoukalas. PAOK’s response was swift and they were level before the half hour. Diego Biseswar’s superb work on the left leading to a cross that was one-timed into the net by Yevhen Shakhov.

The first 15 minutes of the second half was characterized by fierce battles all across the pitch with few chances. The match came to life again though soon after. In the 70th minute, PAOK completed the turnaround as Leo Matos’ fantastic cross saw Aleksandar Prijovic evade his defender and head into the net making it 2-1. 

It was Dimitris Elefteropoulos’ team’s turn to respond. And after ramping up their pressure they tied the game at 2-2 in the 79th minute. Manias producing a great header after pinpoint service from Giannis Kotsiras. There was still one more twist in this epic affair. New signing Pedro Enrique popped up to score the winner in the 84th minute for Vladan Ivic’s bunch. The Brazilian latching on to Prijovic’s pass to make it 3-2. Asteras nearly did the unthinkable at the death, almost making it 3-3, but Glykos was ready to deny Aleksandar Stanisavljevic’s shot.

The final whistle brought a mixture of joy and relief for PAOK supporters, surely ecstatic at the result and the team’s rich vein of form.

*More on this match, including highlights, can be found here...


AEK - VERIA

AEK 6 - 0 Veria
Christodoulopoulos 12', 89'
Lambropoulos 15'
Mantalos 25'
Tomas (og) 36'
Vranjes 40'

High-flying AEK thrashed Veria 6-0 in Sunday’s early kick-off at the Olympic Stadium in Athens. It was another in a series of impressive performances for the Kitrinomavri who scored 6 goals for the second time in a matter of days (the team defeated Levadiakos 6-0 in the Greek Cup on Wednesday). Manolo Jimenez’s positive effect on the club since joining a few matches ago cannot be overstated. 

Veria meanwhile were simply not at the races. Apostolis Terzis’ team could not handle AEK on any front as the home side produced a dominant performance from start to finish. Lazaros Christodoulopoulos opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a quality finish. AEK doubled that score just three minutes later through Vasilis Lambropoulos. Petros Mantalos got on the scoresheet in the 25th minute with a header and the rout was well and truly on. 

But there was more to come before halftime as an Antonio Tomas own goal and Ognjen Vranjes strike closed out a five-goal first half for AEK (the team’s best offensive output in a half since 2009).

The second half was in much the same vein with AEK in cruise control. Christodoulopoulos secured his brace late on to make it 6-0. AEK’s resurgence puts them back to within three points of 5th place. Veria meanwhile are struggling mightily and performances like these could signal their likelihood to face the drop.

*More on this match, including highlights, can be found here...


OLYMPIACOS - IRAKLIS

Olympiacos 3 - 0 Iraklis
Viana 2'
Elyounoussi 42'
Fortounis 56'

Olympiacos had a comfortable evening at the Karaiskakis Stadium on Sunday rolling past Iraklis 3-0. The result was seemingly a foregone conclusion after Bruno Viana opened the scoring in only the 2nd minute. The Brazilian defender scoring his first goal for the club coming from Seba’s 7th assist of the season. Iraklis were unable to mount any sort of attacking threat in the first half and it was only a matter of time before Olympiacos added to their advantage. They did so in the 42nd minute when Tarik Elyounoussi scored from a Diogo Figueiras ball. 

The story repeated itself in the second half and it was 3-0 just before the hour when Kostas Fortounis stuck home a rebound. Iraklis were on the ropes by then however they did manage a 10-minute spell after that third goal. In that period, Savvas Pantelidis’ men created three good chances. Stefano Kapino making two stops and Alberto Botia clearing one ball off the line. 

Despite that stretch it was all Olympiacos. And if not for the presence of the superb Huanderson in the Iraklis goal, the scoreline could have been much more. The Brazilian goalkeeper made a series of big stops finishing the night with 10 saves.

*More on this match, including highlights, can be found here...


 PANIONIOS - XANTHI

Panionios 2 - 0 Xanthi
Korbos 22'
Nabouhane 66'

Panionios secured one of their best wins of the season as they downed Xanthi 2-0 in the AGONAsport Game of the Week. The victory drops Xanthi to 4th in the standings as Panionios remain in 2nd place along with PAOK. Panionios deservedly picked up the points in Nea Smyrni against a Xanthi team who have been very good this season, but who have begun to falter just a little in recent weeks. 

Both sides were cautious in the opening stages. Panionios seemed more keen to possess the ball and attempt to create. And on 22 minutes they opened the scoring. Panagiotis Korbos creating a superb goal by dribbling past two defenders and applying a nice finish with the outside of his foot to make it 1-0. Xanthi were unable to respond and Panionios continued forcing the issue. Xanthi goalkeeper Zivko Zivkovic was called on to make some big stops against Ben and Taxiarchis Fountas. A key event occurred just three minutes from time when Xanthi’s Pablo de Lucas was sent off for a second bookable offense.

Xanthi actually improved after the break when playing down a man. However it was Panionios who struck again in the 66th minute. Substitute Ajdan Mahmutovic winning a controversial penalty (the infraction appeared to occur outside the box) and Ben stepping up to convert the resulting penalty.

The visitors pushed forward late on, but their best chance from Marco Pizzelli brought a wonderful save from Panionios’ Andreas Gianniotis as Vladan Milojevic’s team held on for the win and the shutout.

*More on this match, including highlights, can be found here...


PAS GIANNINA - PANATHINAIKOS

PAS Giannina 1 - 1 Panathinaikos
Conde 31' Berg 56'

Panathinaikos dropped points for yet another match as they were held to a 1-1 draw away to PAS Giannina. Though they were on top for large stretches of the match, Marinos Ouzounidis’ men could not find the all-important winning goal down the stretch despite numerous chances. On an awful pitch at the Zosimades Stadium, both teams were surprisingly able to play some quality football and create chances.

Pedro Conde struck in the 31st minute to give the home team the lead. Replays indicate however that Conde was clearly in an offside position when the ball was played to him. Panathinaikos came roaring out of the blocks after the break and found a way back into the game. The first warning of their intent came just after the start of the second half. Paul Jose M’Poku hit the post with a free-kick in the Prasini’s best chance yet. 

10 minutes later and Marcus Berg had Panthinaikos level. The Swedish striker the beneficiary of a loose ball that landed for him to finish into an empty net. The next 20 minutes was all Panathinaikos with Lucas Villafanez guilty of spurning two big chances. Down the stretch, Panathinaikos, upset with some of the referee’s decision all match, claimed a handball by Alexios Michail which would have been a penalty kick. Anastasios Chatzigiovannis nearly won it in injury time, but he failed to connect properly with his header when he was clean through.

*More on this match, including highlights, can be found here...


LEVADIAKOS - PLATANIAS

Levadiakos 1 - 2 Platanias
Silva (p) 65'

Mendrinos 3'
Signevich 23'

Platanias edged closer to the playoff places with a hard-fought 2-1 win away to Levadiakos. In a rough and tumble match that featured two red cards, Platanias rode a strong start to the tie to come away with a win, surviving a Levadiakos comeback in the second half. 

The away team were ahead as early as the 3rd minute. Kostas Mendrinos taking a free-kick and Levadiakos goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco making the mistake as the ball went through his legs and into the net. Levadiakos tried to push forward for an instant response, but instead another set-piece undid the team again. On 22 minutes, Vanderson’s corner was met by the head of Nikolay Signevich who beat Namasco to make it 2-0. 

Levadiakos threatened on a couple occasions before the half, however they were unable to find the breakthrough. Giannis Stathis’ second yellow card in four minutes left Platanias with 10 men in the 49th, changing the complexion of the game. Levadiakos were awarded a penalty just after the hour after with Toni Silva stepping up to reduce the deficit.

Unfortunately for Levadiakos they could not push on from there and create the chance needed for the equalizer. Instead, Zisis Karachalios was sent off in the 83rd minute for a second yellow meaning both teams then were playing a man down. Platanias saw out the victory, while Levadiakos remain winless since November in a campaign going from bad to worse.

*More on this match, including highlights, can be found here...


PANETOLIKOS - ATROMITOS

Panetolikos 2 - 0 Atromitos
Markovski 12'
Munoz 76'

It was back to winning way for Panetolikos as Makis Chavos picked up his first win with the club since his return with a 2-0 victory over Atromitos. This was a dominant performance for the Agrinio club who outplayed Atromitos for virtually the entire match. Atromitos were poor throughout and remained winless since January 7th as they bid farewell to any lingering playoff hopes. 

If not for the goalkeeping heroics of Andrey Gorbunov in the Atromitos goal, the scoreline could have been much larger. After threating with a flurry of early chances including some world-class tops by Gorbunov, Panetolikos took the lead in the 12th minute through Marko Markovic. The impressive Farley Rosa setting up Markovic for a short-range diving header. 

The introduction of Martin Tonso by the visitors improved them slightly after halftime, but it was to no avail. After missing more chances, Atromitos finally sealed the points in the 76th minute when Fabian Munoz stole the ball from under the nose of Giannis Kontoes, slipping by Gorbunov en route to a simple finish to make it 2-0.

*More on this match, including highlights, can be found here...


LARISSA - KERKYRA

Larissa 1 - 1 Kerkyra
Nazlidis 80' Nikic 84'

It was a missed opportunity for Larisa as they failed to distance themselves more from the relegation zone with a 1-1 draw against Kerkyra on Saturday. The match, played at the AEL FC Arena was there for the taking for the home side when they opened the scoring through Thomas Nazlidis 10 minutes from time. Sakis Tsiolis’ men were unable though to hold onto that advantage as they gave up an equalizer shortly thereafter.

Kerkyra were the better side over the first 45 minutes in Larisa and had big chances through the likes of Thuram and a massive double opportunity with Fotis Georgiou and Alexandros Kontos. The hosts improved after the break, however they still couldn’t manage many clear cut attempts on goal. In the 80th minute though, the stadium came to life with Nazlidis producing a superb finish that hit off the post and trickled into the net. The joy for supporters was short-lived as Kerkyra levelled four minutes later. Denis Epstein’s corner-kick finding Branislav Nikic with the header to make it 1-1.

*More on this match, including highlights, can be found here...

 
by: Giorgos Tsitsonis. Contact the writer at tsitsonisg.agonasport@gmail.com
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