PAOK Enter Title Race With Derby Win (Matchday 23 Recap)

PAOK Enter Title Race With Derby Win
(MATCHDAY 23 RECAP)

 

PAOK ensured a thrilling final stretch to the 2016/17 Greek SuperLeague campaign as the Thessaloniki giants defeated Olympiacos 2-0 in Matchday 23 action. The victory means PAOK move to within eight points of Olympiacos at the top of the table with seven matches remaining. It was a third straight league defeat for Olympiacos, their worst losing run in 21 years. Manager Paulo Bento paid the price as he was sacked in the aftermath. 

Even closer to the Erythrolefki at the top of the standings are Panionios who impressed once again in coming from behind to claim a 1-1 draw with AEK. While they were unable to manage a victory, Vladan Milojevic’s side were still able to cut into Olympiacos’ lead as they are now within six points of the top position. 

Panathinaikos had no trouble trouncing last-placed Veria 5-0 on the back of a Marcus Berg hat-trick. In a key battle for the playoffs, Xanthi came out on top over Platanias 1-0. 

An injury-time winner saw Atromitos get past Iraklis 1-0. Kerkyra used a Thuram brace to gain a 2-1 comeback win away to Asteras Tripolis. PAS Giannina forced a 1-1 draw against Larisa away from home while Panetolikos scored twice in the last 15 minutes to defeat Levadiakos 2-0.

 

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


PAOK - OLYMPIACOS

PAOK 2 - 0 Olympiacos
Shakhov 53'
Prijovic 60'

PAOK picked up a thoroughly deserved 2-0 win over Olympiacos in a derby win that renewed interest in the title race. PAOK used a strong start to the second half to power through with a victory that brings them to within eight points of the leaders. Olympiacos on their behalf were poor once again. This was the club’s third consecutive league defeat, something they haven’t endured for over 20 years. Even more remarkable was that this was their third straight defeat without managing a goal, a statistic they haven’t had occur since the 1984/85 season.

The contest at Toumba began with Olympiacos fashioning the chances. In fact, for the first half hour, they began brighter as Aly Cissokho and Karim Ansarifard both went close early on. PAOK were below par in the opening stages, but after 30 minutes Olympiacos dropped their tempo and the home side began to recover. The last 10 minutes of the half were a sign of things to come as PAOK came close to scoring through Djalma Campos and Amr Warda. More chances came as Fernando Varela went close with a header and Pedro Henrique missing a golden opportunity a minute before halftime. Olympiacos had lost their early momentum, though in the 41st minute Kostas Fortounis’ free-kick was not far off.

The second half saw PAOK try to establish their authority on the match and a goal nine minutes after the interval did just that. Warda’s corner-kick was headed by Stelios Malezas with Olympiacos goalkeeper
Nicola Leali making a meal out of the save allowing Yevhen Shakhov to send Toumba into raptures as PAOK went up 1-0.

Vladan Ivic’s side pressed on and a second goal seemed imminent and it came on the hour. Gojko Cimirot produced a defense-splitting pass that Pedro Henrique turned into the middle for the onrushing Aleksandar Prijovic to steer into the net and within seven minutes PAOK were ahead 2-0. 

That was game, set, and match. The Piraeus side could only muster a couple half chances as the game drew on. PAOK created the best chance of the game’s final stages as Warda hit the post in injury-time.

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


PANIONIOS- AEK

Panionios 1 - 1 AEK
Masouras 59' Araujo 38'

A thrilling affair in Nea Smyrni had it all on Monday night as Panionios and AEK played out an entertaining 1-1 draw. In a pulsating affair, both sides threw caution to the wind and each had chances to take the three points. In the end, a draw was probably the fairest result.

Panionios started well and had a chance to go ahead as early as the 5th minute when Ben had a solid chance. AEK improved after 15 minutes as their midfield began to boss the match. That lead to a big chance from AEK in the 19th minute but Jakob Johansson was denied by Christos Tasoulis’ goal-saving tackle. Panionios were loose in possession and were gifting the ball back to AEK on many occasions. In the 38th minute, Vangelis Oikonomou and Spyros Risvanis had a mix-up at the back, Petros Mantalos picked up the ball and found Sergio Araujo who finished past Andreas Gianniotis to give Manolo Jimenez’s team the lead.

After the interval, Panionios responded like a team that has not lost in 15 matches. The home team raised their tempo and took better care of the ball as they began to create chances. Substitute Samed Yesil had two fine opportunities in the 51st and 58th minutes, but was unable to convert. No matter as the warning shots had been fired and two minutes later Panionios were level. Valentinos Vlachos did some superb work on the right and his cross to the back post was sent past Vasilis Barkas to tie up the score. 

The momentum however swung back toward AEK and the Kitrinomavri almost went ahead through Mantalos. The final 20 minutes saw both sides trying to find the winner. Panionios finished strongest and just before the end nearly snatched the win, but Barkas was equal to Kevin Tapoko’s effort.

1-1 it finished with Panionios remaining in 2nd, cutting Olympiacos’ lead to six points. The draw sees AEK fall out of the playoff places for now as they go down to 6th, two points behind Xanthi.

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


PANATHINAIKOS - VERIA

Panathinaikos 5 - 0 Veria
Berg (p) 18', (p) 39', 41'
Klonaridis 21'
Villafanez 57'

Marcus Berg’s 23-minute hat-trick inside the first half powered Panathinaikos past hapless Veria 5-0. The Swedish striker was downright deadly in the first half as he scored three goals, two from the penalty spot. Veria were never at the races in this Saturday evening match and these type of performances only enhance the observers’ views that the club will go down. 

A handball in the 18th minute led to Berg’s first goal as he scored from twelve yards to give Marinos Ouzounidis’ team the 1-0 lead. Three minutes later, the home team were up 2-0 as Viktor Klonaridis applied a delightful from close range.

Another handball by the Veria backline gave Berg an opportunity to add to his tally and he duly obliged scoring again from the spot to bring the score to 3-0 in the 39th minute. Two minutes after that, Anastasios Chatzigiovannis made a beautiful pass through to the Swede and his tucked his one-on-one chance past Jonathan Lopez to make it 4-0 and clinch his hat-trick. It was Berg’s 11th career hat-trick and  fastest ever in a Panathinaikos shirt.

The second half was a mere formality as Panathinaikos continued their stroll in the park. Lucas Villafanez latched onto a loose ball and made it 5-0 from close range. The Prasini stay in 4th with the win going to 41 points. Veria meanwhile are rock bottom of the SuperLeague, have lost 6 straight and remain the big favorites to go down.

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


XANTHI - PLATANIAS

Xathi 1 - 0 Platanias
Younes 38'

In a potentially crucial battle for 5th place, Xanthi held off the challenge of Platanias for a 1-0 victory. Younes Hamza’s 14th goal of the season was the difference, though the home side needed goalkeeper Zivko Zivkovic to be at his brilliant best in the second half to secure the result. Xanthi stays In 5th position with the win, while Platanias slips to 7th, four points behind.

In quite a poor first half, the only real noteworthy event was the goal that was scored. Panagiotis Triadis’ corner was headed home by Hamza to give the hosts the lead. Hamza was mostly invisible in this match, with this his only shot on target, however his deadly accuracy proved to the difference. 

Changes by Giorgos Paraschos in the second half saw Platanias improve greatly and begin to regularly test Zivkovic. The Serbian keeper showed his good form though, first saving well from Juan Munafo on 54 minutes. Then 17 minutes later, Zivkovic produced a wonderful double save as neither Giorgos Manousos nor Raul Llorente could convert from close range. 

Xanthi were themselves causing problems on the counter and Triadis hit the post as the hosts tried to finish off the match. At the death, Manousos was clean through, however at the vital moment decided to dive for a penalty rather than attempt a shot on target in the box. 

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


ATROMITOS - IRAKLIS

Atromitos 1 - 0 Iraklis
90'+1' Vasiliou

An injury-time strike by substitute Thomas Vasiliou gave Atromitos a precious 1-0 victory over Iraklis. It was yet another tough pill for Iraklis to swallow as they played well again, but ultimately were unable to take what would have been a crucial point.

Savvas Pantelidis’ team are still in the drop zone, however for most of this game they took the game to Atromitos. Especially in the first half it was Iraklis who were creating most of the danger. Atromitos came flying out of the gates in the opening minutes, however Iraklis quickly took control. And Pantelidis saw his side miss some big chances including a shot by Leozinho on 27 minutes. The best moment for the visitors however came nine minutes later when Alexandros Kouros’ long-range effort smacked back off the post. 

Atromitos improved after halftime and threatened with chances from Giannis Maniatis and Vangelis Platellas. On 71 minutes, Nicolas Diguiny just missed from close range after a Kyriakos Kivrakidis delivery. Atromitos’ improvement however was finally awarded late on. The impressive Platellas setting up Thomas Vasiliou, who had been on the pitch only five minutes, to score the winner. 

The victory keeps Atromitos in the playoff conversation, while defeat keeps Iraklis in the relegation zone.

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


ASTERAS TRIPOLIS - KERKYRA

Asteras Tripolis 1 - 2 Kerkyra
Mazza 38' Thuram 70', 83'

A late brace by Thuram sealed a comeback for Kerkyra while heaping more trouble on Asteras Tripolis. Another week and another loss for Asteras Tripolis, a club now flirting heavily with relegation. It was an improved effort for the Tripoli club though ultimately they were unable to keep the lead and take anything from this fixture. The result means Asteras are now on a seven-match losing run in all competitions.

It was something of a non-eventful start to this match  at the Theodoros Kolokotronis Stadium with the first clear-cut chance coming nearly a half hour in when Aleksandar Stanisavljevic and Michalis Manias missed chances in quick succession for the home team. Kerkyra were looking dangerous on the counter-attack, but were unable to carve out too many clear openings. It took a set piece to open the scoring seven minutes from halftime. Pablo Mazza producing a fine free-kick to give Asteras the lead. 

Asteras should have had the momentum, however Kerkyra began the second half with purpose. After substitutions and changes to their system, the visitors looked a much better side. This led to the Brazilian striker Thuram scoring twice in the 70th and 83th minutes to turn the match on its head. On both occasions, the Asteras backline did not deal properly with set pieces and Thuram picked up goals number six and seven on the season for him. When the score was 1-0 to Asteras and 1-1, Mazza had good opportunities to score a second for the hosts, but was unable to in Asteras’ best chances to grab something from this game.

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


LARISSA - PAS GIANNINA

Larissa 1 - 1 PAS Giannina
Jovanovic 18' Conde 41'

PAS Giannina needed some goalkeeping brilliance from Alexandros Paschalakis to come away with a point at Larisa on Saturday. The 1-1 draw would have left the visitors happiest as Larisa created several dangerous chances to win the game in the second half.

Larisa began the match with real drive and were 1-0 up inside 20 minutes. Larisa captain Borislav Jovanovic scoring with a header off of a Adnan Aganovic corner-kick in the 18th minute. Larisa were mostly comfortable as the half headed to a close, but four minutes from the break PAS were level.

Nice interplay between Evripidis Giakos and Pedro Conde saw fantastic leveler produced from the Spanish striker’s 13th goal of the season. The second half proceedings were controlled by the home side as Paschalakis was called on to keep the score tied on a few occasions. His save in the 79th minute from a Alejandro Chacopino header with his feet will go down as the moment of this game and one of the saves of the season.

That save in particular ensured the draw as PAS now go five away matches without a win. It’s perhaps safe to say that now seven points from the playoffs, Giannis Petrakis’ team is probably playing more for league position than seriously considering the playoffs. Larisa move six points clear of the drop zone with the win as they inch away from the bottom two relegation places.

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


PANETOLIKOS - LEVADIAKOS

Panetolikos 2 - 0 Levadiakos
Papadopoulos 76'
Markovski 84'

Panetolikos waited for a while, but ultimately recorded a routine 2-0 victory Levadiakos in Agrinio. The away side opted to sit back and allow Panetolikos to attack and that tactic worked for 75 minutes. However, Levadiakos were finally undone by fantastic work by Marko Markovic, whose driving run into the box ended up with substitute Dimitris Papadopoulos making the crucial breakthrough in the 76th minute.

Levadiakos goalkeeper Stanislav Namasco performed well throughout making several key stops for his team, but Levadiakos offered so little going forward. Markovic went from provider to scorer six minutes from time as he produced a great header past Namasco from Farley Rosa’s exquisite cross.

It finished 2-0 to Panetolikos who go to 26 points. Levadiakos stay two points clear of the relegation spots even in defeat as neither Iraklis nor Veria below could win or draw this weekend.

*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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