Rampant PAOK put Olympiacos to the sword
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 20
|PAOK||3 - 1||Olympiacos|
PAOK took a major step further to the Super League title on Sunday by comprehensively defeating closest rivals Olympiacos 3-1 at the Toumba in Matchday 20’s vital North vs South derby clash.
First half goals from Vieirinha and Diego Biseswar set PAOK on their way, before a second half effort from Chuba Akpom sealed all three points for Razvan Lucescus’s unbeaten side, who have now opened up a nine-point lead at the top of the table and are firm favorites to end their long wait for a league title.
Daniel Podence scored a late consolation for Pedro Martins’ Olympiacos, but it was nothing more than that as PAOK, who last won the Greek top flight in 1985, claimed what will surely prove to be a decisive victory come what May.
Unbeaten PAOK came into the match on the back of a solid 1-1 draw at reigning champions AEK and looking to strike a crucial blow in the title race against the Thrylos, the team closest to them.
And the home side made a simply blistering start to the game, taking the lead after just three minutes when captain Vieirinha’s shot took a deflection of Bibras Natcho and looped over a hapless Jose Sa in the Olympiacos goal.
That strike caused a seismic eruption among the home fans, who sensed that they were in for an evening to remember.
And that script continued in the 20th minute when Dutchman Biseswar started and finished a superb move to make it 2-0. The marauding midfielder released Leo Jaba down the wing, and the Brazilian crossed for Akpom, who failed to get his header on target. But thankfully, the ball landed into the path of Biseswar, who finished with aplomb.
It could have been 3-0 nine minutes later when Yevhen Shakhov fired a shot off the post, and Olympiacos were all over the place as a rampant PAOK seemed able to attack at will down both flanks.
The pattern of the game continued much the same in the second half, with PAOK in the ascendancy and the visitors struggling to get anywhere near the home goal.
Olympiacos finally worked themselves a decent opening in the 81st minute when Daniel Podence crossed for substitute Ahmed Hassan, but the Egyptian’s shot was wayward.
Shortly afterwards, Akpom delivered the killer blow for PAOK. The former Arsenal man, who has revelled in his forward role since the departure of talismanic striker Aleksandar Prijovic to the Middle East, dispossessed the dallying Olympiacos defender Papa Abou Cisse, before proceeding to surge through on goal and clip a superb curling effort past Sa.
Podence did manage to pull a goal back for Olympiacos with two minutes left when he rammed the ball home from close range after Gil Dias’ shot was saved into his path by PAOK keeper Alexandros Paschalakis.
PAOK: 31 Paschalakis (GK), 20 Vieirinha, 5 Varela, 3 Leo Matos, 8 Mauricio, 28 Shakhov, 98 Leo Jaba, 7 Omar, 21 Biseswar, 47 Akpom
Olympiacos: 93 Jose Sa (GK), 23 Koutris, 26 Vukovic, 66 Cisse, 35 Torosidis, 12 Guilherme, 6 Natcho, 56 Daniel Podence, 7 Fortounis, 11 Lazaros, 9 Guerrero
HIGHLIGHTS: PAOK - OLYMPIACOS