Chaos reigns as PAOK-AEK derby clash is cancelled with victory to PAOK
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 25
|PAOK||1 - 0||AEK|
More shameful scenes overshadowed Greek football on Sunday as a marathon North-South SuperLeague derby clash between PAOK and AEK at the Toumba stadium in Thessaloniki was cancelled in chaos after a two-hour delay with the home side awarded a 1-0 win.
Match referee Georgios Kominis and both sets of players left the field after mayhem broke out when he appeared to have ruled out a goal scored by PAOK’s Fernando Varela in the last minute of normal time.
Unbelievable scenes followed with PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis entering the pitch at one stage with a gun visibly strapped to his belt to protest before being ushered away, while players and officials from both teams got involved in an ugly brawl as the match officials tried to get things under control.
It was not made clear if the goal had stood, with even the Greek television channel Nova covering the game in the dark about whether or not the goal had stood in what turned into a complete farce.
Both sets of players, as well as Kominis and his assistants, left the field and did not return as the match was later officially cancelled and awarded to PAOK as a 1-0 win after more than two hours of discussions between all parties.
Kominis in his match report said that he did not rule out the goal for offside and he cancelled the match when AEK refused to take the field of play to complete the match.
Reports claimed that AEK’s players stated they would not be coming back on the pitch, saying “We don’t play football with any guns around.”
It’s the second time in successive home matches that PAOK have had a match cancelled following the derby against Olympiacos on February 25 which did not even start after visiting coach Oscar Garcia was injured after being hit by a roll of receipt paper.
The controversy this time surrounded the offside decision, which was given because the ball went in between the legs of PAOK midfielder Mauricio, who was in an offside position. He was deemed to have interfered with play since AEK goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas’ dive to attempt to save the ball was hindered.
PAOK’s sporting director Lubos Michel sprinted towards Kominis and was seen telling the official: “You are finished,” while there were also reports from the AEK camp that Savvidis allegedly said to Kominis “You’re dead!”.
It was a sad and shameful end to what had been a superb, high-octane game of football played between two sides who are fighting it out at the top of the table.
Manolo Jimenez’s league leaders had the better chances to score in what was an extremely close contest, but there was huge controversy at the death when Fernando Varela headed home what looked like a winning goal for PAOK in the last minute of normal time, only for the strike to be ruled out for offside.
The likely result if PAOK are found guilty of being to blame for the cancellation of the match is that AEK will be awarded a 3-0 win on paper, while the Salonica club could also face severe disciplinary measures such as a points deduction and a heavy fine, as well as having to play home matches without fans.
For now, PAOK lead the SuperLeague with 55 points and hold a one-point lead over now second-placed AEK, while Olympiacos are further behind on 47 points (have a pending appeal case for a 3 point deduction - if overturned, Olympiacos will move to 50 points).
It was a match that was - until the late controversy - a great advert for what Greek football can offer, with was passion, tough tackling and intelligent passing. The only thing that was missing was a killer pass and some composure in front of goal.
The first half saw both teams enjoy spells of dominance but chances were at a premium, with the best opportunity of the opening half falling to AEK.
It came in the 14th minute when Sergios Araujo was allowed to turn in the box and direct a spectacular scissorkick effort inches wide of the post with PAOK goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis motionless.
There really was little to choose between the two teams and that pattern continued in the second half, but as the match wore on things opened up and chances began to flow as attacking became a priority rather than defending.
PAOK should have made it 1-0 in the 52nd minute when the ball broke kindly for Djalma Campos in the box but his shot was deflected narrowly over the crossbar of AEK goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas.
AEK responded with their best chance of the match three minutes after the hour mark when Roderigo Galo picked out Tasos Bakasetas with a trademark precise cross from the right, but the Greece midfiedler’s powerful low shot was brilliantly blocked by the legs of Paschalakis at the near post.
PAOK then enjoyed a purple path when striker Aleksandar Prijovic had two shots in the space of a few minutes but the Serbian marksman failed to find the target.
AEK continued to pass the ball around well, however, and they opened up the hosts’ defence again in the 73rd minute, with Bakasetas again firing a left-footed shot in only to see his effort beat Paschalakis’ dive but flash agonisingly wide of the left post.
PAOK piled on the pressure late on and finally thought they got the crucial goal when Varela headed home from a corner through the legs of team-mate Mauricio. Wild celebrations followed, but they were followed by chaotic scenes as the officials convened before ruling out the goal for offside.
Then all hell broke loose.