AEK Avenge Cup Final Defeat

AEK Avenge Cup Final Defeat

GREEK superleague playoffs - MATCHDAY 1

PAOK 0 - 1 AEK
Vila 11'

AEK Athens gained a measure of revenge for their defeat to PAOK Thessaloniki in last weekend’s Greek Cup final after claiming a hard-earned 1-0 away win over their SuperLeague rivals in their opening encounter of the playoffs.

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Manolo Jimenez’s AEK side, who lost 2-1 to PAOK last Saturday in what turned out to be a controversial final due to questionable refereeing decisions and ugly crowd violence, claimed all three points at the Toumba thanks to Didac Vila’s 10th-minute strike.

The result moved AEK top of the four-team mini league on three points, with PAOK and Panathinaikos in second and third spot with two points, while Panionios are fourth with one point.

The Kitrinomavri looked a completely different proposition to the nervy and unadventurous team which lost in the cup, playing high up the pitch and bossing the match in the opening 45 minutes, with PAOK unable to get behind the visitors’ defence.

It came as no surprise when the visitors went in front with captian Petros Mantalos threading a perfect pass through to Spanish defender Didac, who slotted a clinical finish under PAOK goalkeeper Panagiotis Glykos.

Mantalos should have made it 2-0 four minutes later when he race clear one-on-one with Glykos, but this time the PAOK custodian came out on top, saving and gathering Mantalos shot at the second attempt.

PAOK did manage to gain some meaningful possession in the second half but their efforts on goal were largely speculative strikes from distance with the likes of Gojko Cimirot and Aleksandar Prijović trying their luck to no avail.

In fact, chances for either side were at a premium as both teams resorted to niggly fouls with a flurry of yellow cards characterizing a match which turned low on quality especially in the last 15 minutes as fatigue set in.

AEK’s players celebrated wildly at the final whistle, realizing that they have gained an important psychological advantage with what could prove to be a priceless away win come the end of the playoffs.

by: Graham Wood
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