Fourteen Years Later...PAOKARA Back to the Top
GREEK football cup - final
|PAOK||2 - 1||AEK|
PAOK Thessaloniki defeated AEK Athens 2-1 to win the Greek Cup after a tightly-contested final which was marred by shocking scenes of violence between supporters before kick-off at the Panthessaliko stadium in Volos.
On the pitch, an exciting first half ended all square after a comical error by PAOK goalkeeper Panagiotis Glykos allowed Lazaros Christodoulopoulos’ speculative shot creep in for the equaliser just two minutes after Dutchman Diego Biseswar had put PAOK ahead.
But PAOK were not to be denied their first trophy in 14 years as substitute Pedro Henrique scored what proved to be the winner with a powerful 81st-minute header. There were protests from the AEK players and officials who claimed that Brazilian midfielder Henrique was offside, with replays suggesting that their complaints were not unjustified.
It’s the fifth time in PAOK’s history the club have lifted the trophy, and it is the Salonica team’s first silverware since they last lifted the cup in 2003.
PAOK coach Vladan Ivic dedicated the cup win to the clubs fanatical fans. “It's a great success and one which has definitely got me excited,” he said. “I have to thank the players, they have managed to do something incredible. It was not the prettiest of games, but it was a match in which we knew we could not make any mistakes in from the first whistle to the last. Congratulations to our club’s fans, it is they who have won the cup today.”
Ivic’s opposite number, Spaniard Manolo Jimenez, was bitter with the refereeing display, saying: “The truth is that refereeing is a difficult profession, but in a game where it became clear that whichever team made the least number of mistakes would win, it seemed the match officials made the most errors. I have no complaints with my players’ efforts, it was a very close match, and although we made a few mistakes of our own, it was the officials which made the most.”
Sadly, however, it was the ugly spectre of crowd violence – on ongoing issue which continues to plague Greek football – which took centre stage.
The kick-off was delayed by half an hour after fans of both finalists were involved in violent clashes with riot police, with tear gas used to diffuse the ugly scuffles which erupted in and around the ground.
According to local reports, 30 people were submitted to hospital – six with serious head and stomach injuries – as a result of the clashes where fans were seen to be using a variety of objects as weapons – from ripped up stadium seats to metal poles - as they lit flares and also tried to climb fencing to invade the pitch and attack each other, as well as battle with police.
When it was confirmed that the match would started at 9pm local time, there was a minute’s silence observed before kick-off following the death of a Cypriot fan of PAOK earlier this week after the 24-year-old was hit by a car as he fled crowd trouble outside the Toumba Stadium in Salonica after his side’s 4-1 win over Panathinaikos in the semi-final of the same competition.
Despite the trouble, both teams rose above it to produce an entertaining match, with PAOK’s success a well-deserved one and another example of their swashbuckling style this season.
The breakthrough came in the 24h minute when Angola forward Djalma Campos produced an exquisite piece of skill to turn AEK defender Didac Vila in the box and play a low cross for Bieseswar to score with a first-time shot.
PAOK made the classic mistake of relaxing too much after scoring, however, and AEK were level just two minutes later when Christodoulopoulos’ hopeful long-range drive was haplessly fumbled into the net by Glykos for what should have been a routine catch.
The second half saw both sides eager to get forward and although there was an absence of clear scoring chances, it seemed like more goals were on the cards. And it was PAOK who got themselves in front again with just nine minutes left.
Croatian defender Marin Leovac was the architect, swinging over a perfect left-footed cross for unmarked substitute Pedro Henrique to plant a downward header past the despairing dive of AEK goalkeeper Giannis Anestis.
There were protests from the AEK players who claimed Brazilian midfielder Henrique was offside, with replays suggesting that their complaints were not unjustified.
AEK sent on Portuguese veteran forward Hugo Almeida to try and engineer another equaliser, but the Yellow and Blacks struggled to threaten and PAOK held on to claim the trophy.