Berg’s Rocket Earns the Derby Honours
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 25
|Panathinaikos||1 - 0||Olympiacos|
Panathinaikos heaped more misery on arch rivals Olympiacos by beating the Erythrolefki 1-0 in an entertaining Athens derby at the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium on Sunday, denting the reigning champions title ambitions while strengthening their charge for a playoff place.
Marcus Berg struck his 18th SuperLeague goal of the season in sensational style after 15 minutes to win the match, volleying home after Victor Klonaridis was initially denied by Olympiacos goalkeeper Stefanos Kapino’s save.
The ‘Derby of the Eternal Rivals’ was not has high octane as it has been in previous editions, with Panathinaikos in control for long spells against an Olympiacos side that still looked to be carrying the baggage of their humiliating Europa League exit.
The hosts had several chance to extend their lead, while there was little to write home about for Vasilis Vouzas’ disappointing Olympiacos team. And so the Prasini jumped to 3rd place to solidify their playoff status, while Olympiacos’ fourth league defeat left them with just a six-point advantage ahead of Panionios.
Panathinaikos, who lost 3-0 in first meeting this season back in November, went into the game not only eager to avenge that loss but to put a spanner in the works of Olympiacos’ title charge.
For Olympiacos, who were unceremoniously dumped out of the Europa League Round of 16 last Thursday by Turkish giants Besiktas after suffering a 4-1 loss in Istanbul despite playing the second half with a player extra, the match was a chance to get back on track domestically.
Typically, the start of the match was characterized by some frantic play from both sides amid a cacophony of noise from the home fans, with the Trifylli making the first meaningful forays forward and pressuring Kapino’s goal with a string of corners.
The Greens continued to look more threatening as the match settled into a rhythm and they broke the deadlock after 15 minutes, top scorer Berg the man on target. The Swede volleyed home superbly from the edge of the penalty area after Klonaridis’ shot was saved by Kapino following some neat interplay down the right flank between the latter and Berg.
Klonaridis then blazed over three minutes later from close range with Kapino exposed again as Panathinaikos looked to turn the screw.
Olympiacos rarely found time and space on the ball with a sole burst into the box by Chori Dominguez one of few bright moments for the Erythrolefki in the first half, while Kapino had to be alert to tip a powerful free-kick effort from Paul Jose M'poku over the crossbar just after the half-hour mark.
M'poku warmed Kapino’s gloves again five minutes before half-time with a low, whipped free-kick and Ousmane Coulibaly drilled a shot over the bar as the hosts ended the half strongly.
The second half saw more of the same with Panathinaikos running the show with little in the offering from Olympiacos, meaning all the Greens had to do was play sensibly to get the win which they deserved.