Vranjes hits stunning hat-trick as AEK run riot against Xanthi
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 22
|AEK||4 - 0||Xanthi|
Ognjen Vranjes scored an amazing 28-minute hat-trick as AEK routed Xanthi 4-0 at the Olympic Stadium in Athens on Sunday, inching back to within two points of SuperLeague leaders PAOK in the process.
Bosnia and Herzegovina international defender Vranjes, not heralded for his goalscoring abilities, notched the first treble of his professional career, heading home after five minutes, 19 minutes and then again on 33 minutes.
Remarkably, Vranjes is the first ever central defender to score a hat-trick in the history of the Greek top flight, while the last player to net a treble for AEK was current technical director Nikos Liberopoulos against Aigaleo in 2007.
Greece midfielder Tasos Bakasetas weighed in with a fourth goal for Manolo Jimenez’s team one minute before half-time as the Kitrinomavri sealed another win which allowed them to keep pace with in-form PAOK.
There was no doubt about who the central figure of AEK’s party in the last weekend of Greece’s carnival season was, with Vranjes earning huge applause from the home fans at the final whistle.
If Thursday’s mid-week 1-1 home draw with Dynamo Kiev in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League tie was a bit of a disappointment based on the balance of play, AEK truly got what they deserved against a poor Xanthi team tonight.
The home side went on the attack from the first whistle, and were rewarded for their bright start when Vranjes converted from close range after defensive colleague Dmytro Chygrynskiy had nodded the ball on.
AEK did not let up, and after another forward foray Vranjes planted a superb header past Živko Živković following a Bakasetas corner to make it 2-0 soon after.
The Bosnian was then celebrating again three minutes after the half-hour mark when another cross from Bakasetas found its way on to his bleach-blonde head before being directed past past Živković.
Not happy with just the two assists, Bakasetas then got in on the scoring act himself, adding a fourth goal for an irresistible AEK just before half-time.
AEK stepped off the gas in the second half while Xanthi tried as hard as they could to raise their game and get a goal back, but Milan Rastavac’s team lacked real quality in the final third and it showed.