Maurício magic helps PAOK beat Asteras
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 9
|PAOK||2 - 0||Asteras Tripolis|
A superb brace from Maurício helped PAOK seal a straightforward 2-0 home win over Asteras Tripolis at the Toumba on Monday and propel the Salonica club back into second place in the SuperLeague.
The 28-year-old Brazilian midfielder scored twice in the space of four first-half minutes to clinch another three-point haul for Razvan Lucescu’s side, who now have 18 points and are just one point adrift of surprise leaders Atromitos after nine games.
As a result, AEK drop down to third place just one point further behind on 17 points, while Olympiacos, Panionios and Levadiakos are three points behind with 14. Panathinaikos and PAS Giannina then occupy seventh and eighth place respectively on 13 points in one of the most exciting starts to a SuperLeague season in recent memory.
Having seen early-season title rivals Atromitos and AEK both pick up wins over the weekend, the pressure was on PAOK to keep pace with the top two by seeing off strugglers Asteras, who are second from bottom with just six points to their name this season.
And PAOK never looked in danger of letting any points drop, controlling the match for long spells, confirming that dominance with two great goals from Maurício.
The first came in the 34th minute when Asteras defender Stavros Tsoukalas’s poor clearance only went as far as PAOK’s former Zenit midfielder, and he returned the ball with interest through a sea of bodies and beyond the unsighted visiting goalkeeper Giorgos Athanasiadis with a powerful strike from the edge of the penalty area.
That goal had the home side buzzing while Asteras went on the back foot, and a second goal for the hosts duly arrived three minutes later with Mauricio showing his class once again.
The Brazilian latched onto a neat pass from Portuguese midfielder Vieirinha before side-footing a superb curling effort into the top corner beyond Athanasiadis’ despairing dive.
Asteras regrouped somewhat at half-time and went close to pulling a goal back 11 minutes into the second half, but Giorgos Kyriakopoulos found the crossbar with a well-taken free-kick and striker Michalis Manias failed to convert the rebound.
Both teams made several changes in the latter stages of the match which disrupted the flow of play, and PAOK finished strongly, enjoying much of the possession as the clock ticked down.