Lazaros Resurrects AEK To Tremendous Comeback Victory
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 5
|AEK||3 - 2||Olympiacos|
AEK captain Petros Mantalos netted a last-minute winner as Manolo Jimenez’s team fought back from 2-0 down to clinch a superb 3-2 win over title rivals Olympiacos in an enthralling Athens derby on Sunday at the Olympic Stadium.
Mantalos slid home Marko Livaja’s cross from close range just moments after Lazaros Christodoulopoulos had scored a stunning free-kick to level matters.
Besnik Hasi’s Olympiacos team earlier went ahead somewhat against the run of play after 22 minutes through Marin’s superb lob, and the 40,000 home fans packed into the stadium were stunned into silence again just one minute into the second half when Odjidja-Ofoe’s side-footed finish made it 2-0.
But Christodoulopoulos set up a grandstand finish when his powerful, low shot squirmed under Stefanos Kapino in the Olympiacos goal four minutes after the hour mark, before bringing AEK level with a swerving 25-yard free-kick.
Mantalos then brought the house down in added time when he met Livaja’s cross to win the match and complete and astonishing comeback which sparked wild celebrations among the packed AEK fans.
Olympiacos’ Björn Engels and AEK’s Uroš Ćosić both saw red in added time after almost coming to blows when tempers boiled over.
The result means AEK move two points clear of Panionios at the SuperLeague summit, while Olympiacos lie in fourth spot, five points behind AEK.
AEK may have gone into this much-hyped Matchday 5 showdown as favourites following their super start to the season coupled with Olmypiacos’ indifferent form, but the visitors showed their class in the crucial moments to claim the points.
It was a surprisingly high quality and open match for a derby, which are usually characterized by tentative tactics and niggly fouls at the OAKA, with AEK coming out of the blocks in determined mood.
In a lively start from the hosts, Olympiacos goalkeeper Stefanos Kapino was called into action early on, parrying AEK defender Roderigo Galo’s powerful drive over the bar after 12 minutes.
That sparked Olympiacos into life and just one minute later Mehdi Carcela-González fluffed a great chance to put the visitors in front when he miss-kicked from six yards out with all of the goal to aim at.
AEK continued to push forward but they were caught cold by a quick throw-in by Olympiacos midfielder Odjidja-Ofoe in the 22nd minute. Marin latched on to the throw and opened the scoring with a superb lob with the outside of his right foot for his fifth goal of the season.
Olympiacos grew in confidence and AEK goalkeeper Giannis Anestis made a superb save from Carcela after 32 minutes to keep the score at 1-0.
Next it was AEK’s turn to surge forward and Christodoulopoulos stung the palms of Kapino with a 25-year free-kick which the Olympiacos custodian parried over the bar just before half-time.
Olympiacos began the second half with a spring in their step and went 2-0 up within one minute when Michalis Bakakis tackled Emmanuel Emenike in the penalty area only for Odjidja-Ofoe to arrive at the right time to slot the ball into the top corner.
The unlucky Bakakis then surged forward in the 56th minute and Kapino was called into action again to deny the AEK right-back, who latched on to Mantalos’ cheeky lobbed pass before shooting straight at the Olympiacos keeper.
AEK finally pulled a goal back in the 64th minute and it was a well-worked goal. Petros Mantalos sent over a dangerous free-kick which was controlled expertly by Sergio Araujo, who laid the ball into the path of Christodoulopoulos.
The AEK winger hit the ball on the volley with a powerful right-footed shot which Kapino couldn’t stop going under him and into the net.
The match was then stopped for eight minutes as a precaution after tear gas used by police outside the stadium wafted inside the ground.
When play restarted AEK continued to look the most likely to score, laying siege to the visitor’s goal. And when the goal came it was one to remember.
Christodoulopoulos, who before tonight had never scored against Olympiacos, beat the statuesque Kapino with a free-kick that Cristiano Ronaldo would have been proud of, curling into the top right corner.
Hasi was sent to the stands by match referee Tasos Sidiropoulos with five minutes left after making some unsavory comments and gestures, and he watched in anguish from the VIP section as Mantalos netted the late matchwinning strike.