Panionios Win, Breathe Life Into Title Race (Matchday 22 Recap)

Panionios Win, Breathe Life Into Title Race
(MATCHDAY 22 RECAP)

 

Panionios rode a 1st minute goal to a huge victory over Olympiacos on Sunday, pulling to within seven points of their opponents at the top of the Greek SuperLeague. Matchday 22 was chock full of surprise results, but Panionios’ win topped them all as they continue a truly fantastic campaign.

PAOK and Panathinaikos were unable to capitalize on the leaders losing as both sides dropped points at the weekend. PAOK were held to a 1-1 draw by Iraklis in the Thessaloniki derby, while Panathinaikos saw their recent momentum slip away as they were defeated away to Xanthi 1-0. 

AEK ran out 3-0 winners over Larisa, while Platanias kept up their assault on landing a playoff spot by easily beating slumping Asteras Tripolis 3-0.

Levadiakos produced a huge 2-1 win over PAS Giannina, their first victory in 12 games, boosting their survival hopes. Kerkyra and Panetolikos played out an entertaining, goalless draw on Saturday.

On Monday night,  last-placed Veria yet lost another match, this time to Atromitos 1-0 on a late goal.

 

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


OLYMPIACOS - PANIONIOS

Olympiacos 0 - 1 Panionios
Masouras 1'

Panionios pulled off a fantastic 1-0 win over Olympiacos at the Karaiskakis Stadium to move within seven points of Paulo Bento’s side. A goal in the 1st minute by Giorgos Masouras was enough as Panionios continued their fairytale season with their best result to date. For Olympiacos, it saw the club come crashing down to earth very quickly after Thursday’s great Europa League win over Osmanlispor. 

The defeat was Olympiacos’ first at home in domestic competition for 27 months and fans turned on some players and mainly Bento after the final whistle in yet another toothless display by Piraeus side. 

One long ball was enough 50 seconds into the match to see three Panionios players break forward in a stunning lightning quick move that eventually saw Taxiarchis Fountas lay off the ball for Masouras to put away. Panionios were forced back after that as Olympiacos tried to respond, but ultimately in vain. Oscar Cardozo, a surprise inclusion in the team over Karim Ansarifard, hit the post after 25 minutes continuing his scoreless drought. 

Tarik Elyounoussi nearly scored an equalizer just before the break, but his goal-bound effort was saved by Giorgos Bantis in the Panionios goal. Olympiacos find it hard to create clear-cut chances after the break and resorted to mostly set-pieces and long balls into the box to threaten. Alberto de la Bella hit a second post for the hosts in the 71st minute, but that was as close as the Erythrolefki got as Panionios held out without too much of a problem. 

While some observers may call it premature, others are tipping Panionios to keep cutting into Olympiacos’ lead after this result. While pulling a ‘Leicester’ may seem unthinkable in Greek football, Panionios have shown this season they are a talented side with lots of potential that is on the up. Olympiacos meanwhile are at a crossroads and it doesn’t get any easier. The club faces big tests in the next 10 days such as a second leg Greek Cup Round of 16 match away to Atromitos, an away trip to Toumba next weekend in the SuperLeague followed by the visit of Besiktas for the Europa League next Thursday.

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


XANTHI - PANATHINAIKOS

Xanthi 1 - 0 Panathinaikos
Vasilakakis 67'

Xanthi made their chances count as they held off Panathinaikos 1-0 at home. Marinos Ouzounidis’ Panathinaikos were the better side throughout, however a typical staunch rearguard effort by Xanthi saw them use one moment of brilliance to take the three points.

Zivko Zivkovic performed wonders in the Xanthi goal, coming to his team’s rescue on several occasions. Zivkovic twice denied stinging drives by Viktor Klonaridis in a busy first half. 

Panathinaikos were the more creative side for the  first hour as they tried to find ways to break down the Xanthi defense. In the 67th minute, Xanthi managed to score with their one effort that was on target. Theodoros Vasilakakis scored the winner against Panathinaikos in the reverse fixture a few months’ back and he did so again with a magnificent strike again on Saturday. The midfielder pouncing on a mis-headed ball to unleash a vicious volley that flew past Odysseus Vlachodimos into the top corner. It was Vasilakakis’ fourth career goal versus the Prasini.

Panathinaikos attempted to respond, but ran into a brick wall of a backline and midfield. The biggest chance for the visitors to snatch a point came in the 90th minute, but Zivkovic was on hand to make a game-saving stop to deny Rodrigo Moledo.

Xanthi go to 36 points with the victory as they continue to believe in the playoffs. Panathinaikos stay in 4th, but must be wary now of teams hovering around the playoff places.

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


AEK - LARISSA

AEK 3 - 0 Larissa
Pekhart 24'
Chygrynskiy 81'
Almeida 90'+1'

A first-half Tomas Pekhart goal and two strikes from a couple of substitutes paced AEK past Larisa 3-0 at the Olympic Stadium in Athens. It was a close affair in Sunday’s early kick-off, but AEK pulled away with two goals in the final 10 minutes. The victory keeps AEK in 5th place, but sees Manolo Jimenez’s side gain ground on 4th-placed Panathinaikos, cutting the difference to two points. Larisa meanwhile lose another away fixture and are not yet out of the relegation fight just yet.

AEK chased the early goal from the start and had several early looks at goal from the likes of Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, Ronald Vargas, and Vasilis Lambropoulos in the first 20 minutes of the match. The goal seemed like a matter of time and on 24 minutes the hosts were ahead. Vargas’ cross was met by the unmarked Tomas Pekhart and the Czech striker buried his header to make it 1-0. 

That’s how the score remained into the second half with Larisa unable to mount any sort of offense. Christodoulopoulos hit the post two minutes after the break as AEK pressed for the vital second goal. Larisa began to grow in confidence as long as the score remained 1-0. Their best chance to score an equalizing goal came on 72 minutes when Andreas Avraam saw his fine effort superbly saved by Giannis Anestis. AEK seemed nervous in that stage of the match, but Dmytro Chygrynskiy came off the bench to score 10 minutes from time to settle Kitrinomavri nerves. The Ukrainian defender coming back after a two-month lay-off to score from a ‘Lazaros’ corner. Another header two minutes into injury-time sealed the win for AEK as Hugo Almeida knocked the ball home after a good delivery from Astrit Ajdarevic. 

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


IRAKLIS - PAOK

Iraklis 1 - 1 PAOK
Bastakos 80' Prijovic 19'

In a Thessaloniki derby that had a little of everything, Iraklis fought back to claim a 1-1 draw versus PAOK. The Kaftantzoglio Stadium bore witness to some poor refereeing decisions, as well as a late equalizer and plenty of tension and drama. In the end, Iraklis will be happy with the point earned, while PAOK were disappointing and fall further adrift of 2nd place with the draw. 

After a positive display against Schalke in the Europa League on Wednesday, the expectations were for PAOK to continue that momentum in domestic play this weekend. Vladan Ivic’s side took the lead inside 20 minutes under controversial circumstances. Leo Matos’ shot was saved by Huanderson and Aleksandar Prijovic was on hand to tuck away the rebound to give PAOK the advantage in the 19th minute. Replays showed that the Swiss striker began in an offside position.

Pedro Henrique could have doubled the visitors’ advantage two minutes later, but contrived to miss from close range as PAOK looked to finish off their city rivals early on. PAOK had a penalty shout two minutes before the break as a fallen Dimitris Stamou hand-balled, however the referee considered the contact unintentional.

The second half was a mixture of PAOK’s standard dropping and Iraklis exerting effort, but having the requisite quality to trouble Panagiotis Glykos in the PAOK goal. There appeared little indication that the result would change heading into the final stages. However, Iraklis’ Michail Bastakos had other plans. The substitute striker headed in an equalizer in the 80th minute after Glykos flapped at a cross. Bastakos had a chance to be the ultimate hero on the very next play, however he was unable to finish past Glykos after a wonderful ball by Emanuel Perrone.

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


PLATANIAS - ASTERAS TRIPOLIS

Platanias 3 - 0 Asteras Tripolis
Giakoumakis 24', 51'
Munafo 63'

Platanias showed no signs of losing their good form with a 3-0 trouncing of hapless Asteras Tripolis. A Giorgos Giakoumakis brace led Platanias to an easy victory in a game where it seemed only one team were playing. 

Asteras were nowhere to be found and their season is teetering on the brink of disaster. A few more results like this and the punishment may well be a relegation fight in the closing weeks. That is not out of the realm of possibility at this point. 

It was one-way traffic from the start in Chania as Giorgos Manousos passed to Giakoumakis on 24 minutes for the 1-0 lead. Platanias were in complete control, threatened only once by their opponents on 37 minutes when Michalis Manias broke through but his one-on-one chance denied by Antonis Kokkalas. A free-kick from the left saw Giakoumakis strike again in the 51st minute after a Kostas Mendrinos delivery. Juan Munafo closed out the scoring in the 63rd minute after a superb shot from a poor clearance.

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


VERIA - ATROMITOS

Veria 0 - 1 Atromitos
Diguiny 89'

Veria were plunged deeper into the relegation abyss as Atromitos emerged victorious Monday night 1-0. An 89th minute strike by Nicolas Diguiny saw Atromitos win a tight affair and push on closer to the playoffs. Veria meanwhile now find themselves four points from safety and struggling to find the momentum to stay in the division.

The first half saw Veria as the bigger goal threat through most of it. Ratko Dostanic’s team had good chances to take the lead through Milos Stojcev, Jeffrey Sarpong, and a massive opportunity toward the end with Pantelis Kapetanos coming extremely close with a header. Atromitos’ best chance came a minute from the break as Sokratis Ftyanidis saw his effort denied by the post with Veria goalkeeper Jonathan Lopez scrambling to cover the rebound. 

Veria dominated play for much of the second half with ball possession in their favor by a 70%-30% margin. Time was working against the home side however and they were forced to take risks as the game progressed. This eventually allowed the defensively resolute Atromitos to find space in which to attack. This was key at the end as Diguiny, back from an injury that he incurred in the opening match of the campaign, struck late on. Veria had little time to respond to that setback and Atromitos were able to close out the win.

Veria remain last in the SuperLeague on 13 points, while Atromitos go 8th. While Ricardo Sa Pinto’s team are an outside bet for the playoffs, on this form their four point deficit from 5th place does not seem insurmountable.

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


LEVADIAKOS - PAS GIANNINA

Levadiakos 2 - 1 PAS Giannina
Vasiliou 39'
Milhazes (p) 57'
Conde 23'

After 12 matches without a victory, Levadiakos finally picked up three points with a massively important 2-1 win over PAS Giannina. The win gives a real boost to the survival hopes of Giannis Christopoulos’ team as they go two points clear of the drop zone.

But, the home side had to do it the hard way at the Levadia Stadium going behind to a 23rd minute Pedro Conde goal as PAS Giannina made the early breakthrough. After Conde’s super goal, Levadiakos seemed to click into a higher gear and were rewarded six minutes from time as Stelios Vasiliou after a counter-attacking move that ended with Toni Silva serving up the attacker. After the break, it was Giannis Petrakis’ PAS side who nearly took the lead with a big opportunity, but in the 57th minute Levadiakos completed the comeback. Silva was fouled in the box and Carlos Milhazes stepped up to score his first goal for the club from the penalty box making it 2-1. 

Levadiakos dropped back to protect the lead and though they gave Giannina lots of space, they did well in shoring up their back third and held on for the victory. With the defeat, PAS Giannina drop further away from the playoffs as their season has taking a turn for the worse with results in 2017.

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


KERKYRA - PANETOLIKOS

Kerkyra 0 - 0 Panetolikos

It ended all square in Kerkyra as the home side and Panetolikos played out a fairly entertaining 0-0 draw. With both teams all but assured of safety, the match had the feeling of little pressure for either side. That allowed for a fairly open contest and one that stayed scoreless only because of the goalkeeping heroics of Kerkyra’s Fotis Koutzavasilis and Panetolikos’ Dimitris Kyriakidis.

The Greek netminders were fantastic throughout making save after incredible save in a goalkeeping masterclass. Panetolikos hit the crossbar through Alvaro Rey in the 35th minute. Kerkyra responded four minutes later by winning a penalty for a handball on Tasos Tsokanis. Brazilian striker Thuram saw his spot-kick saved brilliantly by Kyriakidis.

Both teams had several scoring chances in the second half as the game hung on a knife edge. Both keepers were outstanding. Kyriakidis seemingly producing the save of the match in the 78th minute from a Viera Ellong Doulla effort only to be matched by Koutzavasilis at the death when he denied an almost certain goal by Dimitris Papadopoulos from short range.

*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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