PAOKARA...With the Help of Kizas
GREEK SOCCER CUP - SEMI-FINALS (LEG 2)
|PAOK||4 - 0||Panathinaikos|
|(4 - 2)
A controversial display of refereeing from Giorgos Kizas saw PAOK overturn their Greek Cup semi-final tie with Panathinaikos to win comfortably 4-0 in their second leg clash at the Toumba and progress to the final 4-2 on aggregate.
The emphatic and surprising result, which was provided courtesy of goals from Dimitris Pelkas, Leo Matos, Yevhen Shakhov and Aleksandar Prijović, was overshadowed by some highly questionable - and almost scandalous at times - refereeing decisions by Drama official Kizas.
PAOK are the team that will face AEK Athens in the final, but it remains to be seen what actions a fuming Panathinaikos team will take in the wake of perhaps one of the most controversial matches in recent memory.
PAOK took to the pitch at a rocking Toumba determined to overturn a 2-0 deficit after being comprehensively beaten in the first leg at the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium two weeks ago.
And the first helping hand they received from Kizas was after 14 minutes when he awarded a free-kick to PAOK in a dangerous position for a non-existent foul. PAOK’s Greece international Pelkas stepped up to curl a superb free-kick into the top left corner of to make it 1-0.
Four minutes later and Kizas made another major error after failing to give a penalty to Panathinaikos after Greens’ striker Marcus Berg was hacked at by PAOK defender Fernando Varela as the pair battled for possession. Another clear PAO penalty claim was denied by Kizas on the half-hour mark when PAOK defender Jose Angel Crespo held back Panathinaikos forward Victor Klonaridis.
A key point in the match then came in the 36th minute when Klonaridis wasted a gilt-edged chance to equalise, missing the target when sent clean through on goal.
Panathinaikos were made to pay for their first-half profligacy three minutes after the break when Matos headed home a cross to make it 2-0 on the night and level at 2-2 on aggregate. Panathinaikos were still in it at that point, and had actually been the better team, but then came Kizas’ poorest decision of the match when he sent off Niklas Hult in the 72nd minute.
Swedish defender Hult was very harshly booked for a second time for what was barely a routine foul on Matos. The decision left Panathinaikos’ players reeling in disbelief, and from then on it was all downhill for Marinos Ouzounidis’ team.
Further strikes from Yevhen Shakhov and Aleksandar Prijović for PAOK saw the hosts claim a victory their fans went wild for, while Panathinaikos were left stunned and must now regroup for the playoffs to claim a place in the Champions League.