PAOK comeback stuns Panetolikos
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 26
|Panetolikos||1 - 2||PAOK|
|Bajrovic (P) 57'
PAOK captain Vierinha scored one of the goals of the season on Saturday evening as SuperLeague leaders PAOK produced a superb comeback to overcome Panetolikos 2-1 on Saturday after falling behind to the Agrinio side to maintain their hopes of going for an entire league season unbeaten.
Admir Bajrovic’s penalty opener for the home side 10 minutes into the second half looked to have set Panetolikos on their way to a famous win.
But a long-range wondergoal from Vierinha and a powerful header from Leo Matos in the space of three minutes turned the game on its head for Razvan Lucescu’s PAOK, who extended their lead over Olympiacos to 10 points.
Traianos Dellas’ Panetolikos had no answer to those two quick-fire goals, and the defeat damages their changes of catching fifth-placed Aris in the race for European places with five matches to play.
PAOK headed into this match at the Panetolikos Stadium looking to extend their unbeaten run to 25 matches in what has been a remarkable season for Lucescu’s men so far.
But the first half did not give an indication that this may happen as PAOK produced an uncharacteristic performance with sloppy passing and touch tackling causing the flow of the match to be constantly disrupted.
In fact it was Panetolikos who came closest to scoring in the first 45 minutes when PAOK goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis produced a stunning save to deny Brazilian midfielder Marcos Paulo’s header.
The start of the second half did not seem much better and then the home side got a crucial breakthrough when Jose Angel Crespo clumsily fouled Jorge Diaz in the penalty area.
Bajrovic stepped up confidently to send Paschalakis the wrong way with a low finish to put Panetolikos in front and send their fans into a frenzy.
To their credit, PAOK’s response was one expected of a team who look every inch champion material. The visitors did not panic and set about trying to open up the home side with some click passing and pressure.
But the goal that got PAOK back into the game came out of nothing. But what a strike it was. Vierinha, PAOK’s “Mr. Reliable”, picked up possession some 35 yards from goal and unleashed a right-footed shot which dipped and swerved its way past the hapless dive of Panetolikos goalkeeper Nikos Giannakopoulos and into the bottom right corner of the net.
Vierinha celebrated wildly with his team-mates and PAOK’s away fans went beserk.
There was more joy to come for PAOK though just three minutes later when Leo Matos rose to head home Diego Biseswar’s right-wing corner with Giannakopoulos again helpless to react in time.
That second goal was a sucker punch for Panetolikos and the home side spent the remainder of the half trying to come to terms with what had happened as PAOK continued to look threatening each time they went forward.
Panetolikos: 31 Giannakopoulos (GK), 47 Malis, 17 Marcos Paulo, 66 Mihaj, 10 Mazurek,
15 Pedro Amaral, 37 Tsiggaras, 9 Bajrovic, 21 Marinakis, 7 Mana, 11 Diaz
PAOK: 31 Paschalakis (GK), 3 Leo Matos, 5 Varela, 15 Crespo, 18 Limnios, 20 Vierinha, 21 Biseswar, 26 Oliveira, 28 Shakhov, 47 Akpom, 98 Jaba
HIGHLIGHTS: PANETOLIKOS - PAOK