Greens Have One Foot in the Final
GREEK SOCCER CUP - SEMI-FINALS (LEG 1)
|Panathinaikos||2 - 0||PAOK|
Panathinaikos took a giant stride to reaching the Greek Cup final after making light work of PAOK in the first leg of their semi-final tie on Wednesday, beating their rivals from Thessaloniki 2-0.
It was a case of the ‘real’ Panathinaikos standing up at the Apostolos Nikolaidis as Marinos Ouzounidis’ team avenged last weekend’s poor 3-0 SuperLeague defeat to PAOK at the Toumba in some style thanks to goals from Rodrigo Moledo and Sebastian Leto.
This match, featuring a much changed side from Panathinaikos with all their stars reinstated after being rested for the league match, was a completely different proposition for both teams. PAOK were actually flattered by the scoreline in the end as the Greens could have doubled their advantage and really embarrassed Vladan Ivic’s men.
Such was the Trifili’s dominance that they finished the match having 13 goal attempts to PAOK’s three, with eight of them on target while PAOK failed to register a single effort to trouble Panathinaikos goalkeeper Odysseas Vlachodimos.
Ouzounidis had clearly set his team up to attack from the first whistle, and the early pressure paid off when Brazilian Moledo scored with a header from a corner, after Marcus Berg had headed PAOK goalkeeper Panagiotis Glykos’ attempted clearance back into the danger zone.
There could have been more goals before Panathinaikos eventually made it 2-0 with seven minutes left, with Leto gleefully slotting the ball into an empty net from Berg’s unselfish assist after Paul-Jose M’Poku’s shot rebounded into the Swede’s path.
Despite their dominance, Panathinaikos were lucky to get away without conceding a late goal as Berg should have been penalised for an elbow on PAOK defender José Ángel Crespo in the 89th minute in the penalty area.
As things stand, PAOK face a huge task if they are to overturn the deficit in the return leg in two weeks time, and Greens fans will already be thinking about the final and a potential date with arch rivals Olympiacos, who take on AEK in the first leg of that semi-final clash on Thursday.