Hiljemark Screamer More Than Just A Goal
AGONAsport’s Nick Tsambouniaris explains the importance of Hiljemark’s late winner against Larissa in last weekend’s Greek Superleague fixture and how it can be a turning point for the Trifyllis’ season ahead.
As the clock wound down in the final match of the seventh round of the Super League, a 9-man Panathinaikos side was staring down the barrel of another wasted game of dropped points. This time to rock bottom Larissa, who themselves have endured a terrible start to the season highlighted by two managerial sackings and a president who quite simply has no morals.
Enter Oscar Hiljemark. The Swedish international midfielder on loan from Genoa conjured up a moment of brilliance (that has gone viral worldwide) with a little bit of luck to give the Greens an extraordinary 2-1 win deep in stoppage time as his cross from a good 30 metres out from the left wing intended for either Moledo or Mounier in the box beat everyone, including the Larissa goalkeeper. As they say, fortune favours the brave but credit to Hiljemark for backing himself and delivering when it mattered to score his second goal in the famous green jersey.
He has been the best summer signing so far this season, giving the team a solid presence in the middle of the pitch with his positional awareness and being a willing contributor going forward showcasing his creativity. This goal and all the accolades he has received have been more than warranted. This goal is a fitting reward for his efforts so far during the turbulent times the club has faced.
However, it was more than just a goal. You just have to look at the wild celebrations that followed from fans, players and coaching staff alike. Leoforos was absolutely bouncing to say the least, but it was the reaction from the playing group that caught the eye. Kourbelis, a young captain, illustrated his passion, as did Villafanez and Mounier among others. Goalkeeper Vlachodimos raced up the entire pitch just to be apart of it.
It was the first time Panathinaikos has conceded at home since the 19th of January and the two red cards were total lapses in concentration, but that Hiljemark goal overrides it all and it needs to be used as a catalyst for a sustained run of improved results after a slow start. In other words, it has to be treated as more than just a goal, and hopefully a turning point.
Lamia away this weekend represents a banana skin, where we are expected to win but way too often we fall into the opponent’s gameplan and drop points. We now need to use the character and passion to build on the amazing ending against Larissa and band together as one - players and fans. The off-field troubles have been well-documented, but it is only the players that can put smiles on the faces of the fans, who in turn must replicate the atmosphere of the last two home games.
At the end of the month we host eternal rivals Olympiakos who have not beaten us at Leoforos for 4 years. That is the one we need to be ready for. A settled team with a good run of results to build confidence is needed, making this upcoming game against Lamia even more significant. There is of course, a Greek Cup tie against Anagennisi Karditsa in between too. Then throw in the fact that Chavez could be ready for the big derby and by the end of the month things could possibly start looking better in terms of on-field matters.
Ouzounidis also deserves credit for realising the 4-2-3-1 formation was hurting us as Zeca’s departure left a gaping hole in the middle of the park. The move to 4-3-3 has seemed to help for the time being with 3 central midfielders providing more bark and energy, in addition to Hiljemark playing closer to the attackers. Reis should replace the suspended Sylla this weekend in the midfield trio, but it will be interesting to see what happens when Chavez returns. Molins has been in good form and if he keeps it up may command a starting spot. Could Ouzounidis opt for a 4-4-2 to accommodate him and Chavez up top together? Time will tell but for now let’s take it one game at a time and hope the playing group works as a more cohesive unit spending more time together as well as riding the highs and lows as one.