Five key goals in AEK’s Super League triumph
In what was a gripping title race, AEK Athens took the crown of Greek champions, winning the Super League three rounds before the season’s completion. AGONAsport looks at some of the key moments.
Watch LIVE from AGONAsport the Greek Cup Final between AEK & PAOK on Saturday, May 12th.
Coming into the season, the Kitrinomavri had real hope of winning their first Greek title in 24 years, boasting a talented squad and boosted by the second loan spell of Argentinian forward Sergio Araujo. After Araujo returned in late summer, AEK began playing some wonderful football both in Greece and Europe, qualifying from the UEFA Europa League group stages and earning first place of the Super League. Olympiacos and PAOK threatened, however the two clubs got involved in scandals late in the season, allowing AEK to capitalise and steal the trophy.
In a featured article, let’s see which five goals were crucial in AEK’s championship winning season.
Petros Mantalos versus Olympiacos (3:2, September 24)
AEK and Olympiacos did battle in the most thrilling, pulsating and dramatic Greek derby witnessed in recent history. Playing at the Olympic Stadium, AEK took the initiative early on, but goals from Marko Marin and Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe put Olympiacos in control with a 2:0 lead.
Nevertheless, that was just the start of the drama. Lazaros Christodoulopoulos equalised with two fantastic goals, before captain Petros Mantalos slid the ball home in the final minutes to seal a stunning AEK 3:2 comeback win.
Marko Livaja versus Panathinaikos (1:1, November 19)
Despite languishing in the midst of a financial crisis, Panathinaikos gave AEK a real battle at a packed Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium, taking the lead when Rodrigo Moledo thumped a header beyond a stranded Giannis Anestis after 10 minutes. The Greens showed grit and determination against AEK, refusing to give the Enosis easy opportunities.
AEK gradually began to boss proceedings as the match wore on, missing a number of superb chances to equalise. It looked as though it wasn’t AEK’s day, but in the last minute of stoppage time Astrit Ajdarevic found the unmarked Marko Livaja on the right flank, who lashed a deflected effort into the far corner. One of AEK’s biggest points of the season.
Giorgos Giakoumakis versus Olympiacos (2:1, February 4)
The moment when AEK started to believe it was their year. In a game billed as the title decider, the teams cancelled each other out for the majority of the match, but Olympiacos forward Karim Ansarifard thumped a loose ball past Panagiotis Tsintotas in the last 10 minutes to make it 1:0 in the Thrylos’ favour in Piraeus.
Just like at the OAKA, AEK pulled off a simply astounding comeback. After Dmytro Chygrynskiy had equalised from a corner, substitute Giorgos Giakoumakis shrugged off Alberto Botia’s challenge in the box in added time, tapping into the unguarded net. Incidentally, it turned out to be Giakoumakis’ only goal of the Super League season.
Lazaros Christodoulopoulos versus Asteras Tripolis (1:0, February 11)
Yes, it wasn’t a match against a so-called big team, but AEK had to be patient in this game. Asteras Tripolis frustrated the Kitrinomavri for long spells during the fixture, not allowing AEK time in dangerous areas and relying on some heroics from goalkeeper Giorgos Athanasiadis. Following the previous week’s drama against Olympiacos, hosts AEK seemed to be lacking emotion.
In the second half, AEK managed to break through. Asteras defender Yevhen Selin handballed in the penalty area, in turn gifting Lazaros Christodoulopoulos a chance to break the deadlock from the spot. AEK’s number seven gleefully took advantage.
Fernando Varela versus AEK (0:3, March 11)
In Thessaloniki, PAOK hosted AEK at the Toumba Stadium in the season’s decisive match, seemingly scoring a late winner when Fernando Varela headed a corner in. AEK protested furiously against the goal, citing that Mauricio was standing in an offside position. Eventually, referee Georgios Kominis changed his original decision, cancelling the goal and gifting AEK a free-kick.
The scenes to come shocked the entire football world. PAOK owner Ivan Savvidis stormed the pitch with a gun attached to his waist, appearing to threaten the referee and the AEK bench. His actions resulted in the match being abandoned and PAOK losing the game 0:3 in court. The Dikefalos tou Vorra were also deducted a further three points from the standings.