AEK Keep Champions League Hopes Alive
GREEK superleague playoffs - MATCHDAY 5
|AEK||1 - 0||PAOK|
AEK recovered from their loss to Panathinaikos last time out to clinch a gritty 1-0 win over SuperLeague playoff rivals PAOK at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday’s late match to keep their hopes of claiming a Champions League place alive.
Manolo Jimenez’s team, who lost 1-0 to the Greens in mid-week, put themselves back in contention, climbing one point above PAOK into top spot thanks to a previous win provided by Anastasios Bakasetas’ 42nd-minute goal.
The win lifted AEK onto nine points, while PAOK and Panathinaikos are joint-second with eight points apiece with just one match remaining.
That picture is likely to change significantly if - as expected - PAOK are awarded a 3-0 win for the abandoned Matchday 2 clash when the Salonica club’s coach Vladan Ivic was hit with a beer can thrown by a home fan. Panathinaikos are also expected to be deduced three points in the disciplinary case concerning that match.
Based on the above, that would put PAOK in top spot with 11 points going into the final matches next Wednesday. AEK would have to win its match at Panionios and hope that Panathinaikos can do them a favor by winning at the Toumba.
It was an impressive display from AEK against a below par PAOK side, who also lost the corresponding playoff fixture to the Yellow and Blacks at the Toumba on Matchday 1.
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos missed a golden chance to put AEK ahead early on after he wastefully fired a penalty wide in the sixth minute following Jorge Angel Crespo’s handball.
The home side’s attacking impetus was not lost, however, and they deservedly went ahead after some neat interplay just three minutes before half-time which culminated in 23-year-old Bakasetas turning and finding the net with a clinical finish.
PAOK failed to trouble Giannis Anestis in the AEK goal and their miserable night was summed up when they finished the match with 10 players after defender Stelios Malezas was sent-off for picking up a second booking.