Greens Bounce Back from Cup Shock, AEK End Season in Fourth
GREEK superleague - matchday 30
|Panathinaikos||2 - 0||Larissa|
|PAS Giannina||1 - 1||AEK|
Panathinaikos bounced back from their disappointing Greek Cup semi-final exit to PAOK in mid-week with a solid 2-0 home win over Larissa in their final match of the regular SuperLeague season, setting themselves up nicely for the playoffs. AEK will begin the play-offs pointless after failing to claim victory in their final match of the regular SuperLeague season against PAS Giannina which ended in a 1-1 draw.
Marinos Ouzounidis team, who lost 4-2 on aggregate to PAOK after suffering a 4-0 defeat at the Toumba on Thursday night, will have one point at the start of the playoffs after goals either side of half-time from their star forwards Sebastian Leto and Marcus Berg saw them take all three points at the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium.
Following his strike in the 49th minute, Swede Berg took his tally to 22 goals this season – topping the Super League’s scorers’ chart for the first time – after Argentine Leto had given the Greens the lead six minutes before half-time.
After ending the regular season in third place, Panathinaikos will begin the playoffs in second, one point and one place PAOK with one point. The playoffs are set to kick off on May 10, four days after PAOK take on AEK in the cup final at the Panthessaliako Stadium in Volos.
Manolo Jimenez’s team, who lost to Olympiacos 1-0 at OAKA on Wednesday but still progressed to the Greek Cup final on away goals after their semi-final tie ended 2-2 on aggregate, were again unimpressive.
PAS took a deserved 38th-minute lead through Albanian midfielder Andi Lila, but AEK eventually played their way back into the game and salvaged a point courtesy of Argentine midfielder Patito Rodriguez’s late strike 10 minutes from full-time.
Despite their low-key display, a second 1-0 defeat in four days would have been harsh on AEK, and Jimenez will now begin his planning for Saturday’s cup final where he will hope to coax another performance like the one which saw AEK win 2-1 against Olympiacos at the Georgios Karaiskakis in the first leg of their semi-final clash.
After that match is the way, there is still plenty for the Kitrinomavri to play for, namely a place in the Champions League when the playoffs get underway on May 10.