‘A great win, but we haven’t won the title’ - Jimenez
AEK Athens coach Manolo Jimenez insisted his team has by no means won the SuperLeague with Sunday’s stunning 2-1 comeback win in the Athens derby at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium on Sunday.
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The 54-year-old Spaniard was understandably delighted after seeing his players turn a potential 1-0 loss into an astonishing late win thanks to goals from Dmytro Chygrnskiy and Giorgos Giakoumakis which eclipsed Karim Ansarifard’s strike for the reigning champions.
Those late AEK goals could have serious repercussions in this season’s exciting title race, with AEK now leapfrogging Olympiacos into second spot.
But Jimenez’s team are still two points behind leaders PAOK, while Olympiacos are third and are further two points back, and there is still a long way to go in his book.
““It is a fair victory against Olympiacos, who are a huge opponent and great team, but this is not a title win,” Jimenez said afterwards. “We would not miss out on the championship if we did not win tonight, nor did we win it with our victory here, because there is another team [PAOK] ahead right now.”
He concluded: “What I will say is that it is an important step for AEK and a big victory, but not a decisive one. It would have been a travesty of justice if we had come away from tonight’s game empty handed.”
All three goals came in the final 10 minutes of what had been an otherwise tense and uninspiring contest up to that point, littered with niggly fouls, defensive tactics and very little imagination in the final third of the pitch from both teams.
The win was just about the right result after a low-key match in which AEK had the lion’s share of the few scoring chances on offer on the night and showed great team spirit to finish so strongly after going behind.
Jimenez’s opposite number Oscar Garcia claimed that there was a foul in the build-up to AEK’s second crucial goal, but also admitted his team did not show the maturity they should have when the scores were locked at 1-1.
“After we conceded the first goal we should have shown the experience to handle the situation but we didn’t,” said the Spaniard.
“But I am disappointed with the second goal, there seemed to me to be a clear foul in the build up and we know how things went after that moment,” he added.