AEK fight back to beat Xanthi
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 27
|Xanthi||1 - 3||AEK|
AEK continued their impressive end-of-season form on Sunday with a 3-1 comeback win over Xanthi at Pigadia, a result which means the Kitrinomavri have all but locked up third place in the SuperLeague.
The reigning champions, who will not be repeating their much-heralded title success of last year, fell behind to Matias Castro’s 33rd-minute goal in an indifferent first-half.
But second half goals from Marios Oikonomou, Ezequiel Ponce and Lucas Boye turned the game on its head and wrapped up another three-point haul for Manolo Jimenez’s team, who extended their lead over fourth-placed Atromitos to 10 points, while Xanthi remain in 11th.
Coming into the match on the back of a mid-week 2-0 Greek Cup semi-final first leg win over Lamia, AEK looked full on confidence in the early exchanges.
First Christos Almpanis saw his dangerous shot deflected by his own team-mate in Marko Livaja with goalkeeper Zivko Zivkovic exposed, and Petros Mantalos had the ball in the net after 15 minutes - his rebounded effort from a Viktor Klonaridis shot ruled out for offside.
Xanthi struggled to get in behind the AEK rearguard, but when they did in the 13th minute, striker Erik Jendrisek sent a shot wide of Panagiotis Tsintotas’ post.
AEK threatened again through Mantalos on the half-hour mark, but the captain’s header was comfortably blocked by Zivkovic.
Then, against the run of play, just three minutes later Xanthi took the lead. It was a nicely worked goal with Spaniard Jorge Casado’s cross picking out Argentine forward Matias Castro, and the 27-year-old headed past Tsintotas to send the home fans into frenzied celebrations.
AEK needed to upped their game in the second half, and they responded well. After dominating possession for long spells in the half, the visitors finally equalized after 68 minutes when Oikonomou prodded home after the ball fell kindly to him in a goalmouth scramble after Mantalos had a shot blocked.
Just two minutes later, it was 2-1 to AEK when Galo’s cross was perfectly brought down by Ponce before the Argentine rifled a shot past Zivkovic.
That goal took the stuffing out of Xanthi, who had battled well up to that point, and AEK added a third to round off a great comeback in the second minute of added time when Boye latched on to Livaja’s pass to score.
Xanthi: 20 Zivko Zivkovic (GK), 91 William, 32 Casado, 8 Camara, 4 Almeida, 9 Kovacevic, 31 Lisgaras, 2 Dyrestam, 18 Castro, 26 Jendrisek, 3 Barrientos
AEK: 16 Tsintotas (GK), 4 Oikonomou, 12 Galo, 23 Hult, 24 Svarnas, 7 Almpanis, 17 Klonaridis, 20 Mantalos, 25 Galanopoulos, 95 Alef, 22 Ponce
HIGHLIGHTS: XANTHI - AEK