PAOK have one foot in the final after beating Panionios
GREEK SOCCER CUP - SEMI FINALS (LEG 1)
|Panionios||1 - 3||PAOK|
PAOK banished the frustrations of Sunday’s controversially cancelled SuperLeague derby clash with Olympiacos on Wednesday by brushing aside Panionios 3-1 in the first leg of their Greek Cup semi-final clash.
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Goals from Mauricio, Aleksandar Prijovic and Diego Biseswar earned Razvan Lucescu’s in-form team a comfortable victory in Nea Smyrni which puts PAOK firmly in the driving seat ahead of the return leg at the Toumba.
Panagiotis Kourbos headed home for Panionios late on but it was no more than a consolation goal for the home side on a night when they were second best in all departments.
The result keeps PAOK, the cup holders, on course for a league and cup domestic double as the men from Salonica will be expected to finish the job on home turf and they still lead the SuperLeague by a point ahead of AEK Athens as things stand.
More than that, however, PAOK produced a performance to banish the disappointment of having their match against title rivals Olympiacos cancelled before a ball was kicked due to the controversial incident which saw the Erythrolefki coach Oscar Garcia struck in the face with a paper roll.
PAOK were in scintillating form in the first half against Michalis Grigoriou’s Panionios team, attacking seemingly at will and controlling 82 percent of possession in the first 20 minutes.
It wasn’t long until the first goal came, with Mauricio nodding into an empty net in teh 24th minute after Dimitris Limnios had flicked on a cross from Prijovic following the Serbian forward’s rampaging run down the left flank.
Prijovic then deservedly doubled PAOK’s advantage 10 minutes later, planting a bullet header expertly beyond the helpless Matic Kotnik in the Panionios goal from Limnios’ left-wing cross.
Panionios responded positively to the second goal and almost pulled level two minutes before half-time when Giorgos Masouras headed against the post.
The visitors continued to control the rhythm of play in the second half, and Dutch midfielder Bieseswar fired home an unstoppable shot after capitalizing on a poor clearance from Panionios’ Cameroon defender Yaya Banana.
Roberk Mak missed a golden chance to make it 4-0 to PAOK when he raced clear following a poor pass by Kotnik, and Mak was made to regret his miss when Kourbos headed in a late consolation from a corner for Panionios to give their fans some home with just five minutes left.
PAOK will feel that they have done enough to be able to defend their advantage on home turf in the second leg, and barring a disaster at te Toumba, Lucescu’s men will get the chance to defend the trophy they won last season.