‘They stole the double from us’, says Luscescu
Outspoken PAOK boss Razvan Lucescu again spoke of stolen titles in the aftermath of the club’s deserved 2-0 victory over AEK in the Greek Cup final on Sunday, stating that although PAOK were “worthy winners” he was still seething over his team’s “stolen” SuperLeague title.
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A stunning free-kick from captain Vieirinha and a late Dimitris Pelkas tap-in helped PAOK overcome AEK to lift the Greek Cup on Sunday at the Olympic Stadium in Athens after an enthralling final ended in a deserved 2-0 win for the Salonica club.
The PAOK camp were in celebratory mood, but coach Razvan Lucescu was still bittersweet at missing out on the league title to AEK.
“I’m the happiest person in the world at the moment; we didn’t just win but we gave a footballing lesson [to AEK],” said a jubilant Lucescu.
“We showed on the pitch that PAOK it was the best team. Today we could have been celebrating the double, but the title was stolen from us,” said the Romanian, in reference to the abandoned match against AEK at the Toumba when PAOK had a goal disallowed for offside and ended up with a 0-3 defeat on paper and a three-point deduction.
Lucescu said the cup triumph was the result of a tough season-long effort.
“At least we are celebrating a Greek Cup trophy, which is the product of the very hard, and very good work we have put in this season,” he commented.
“Our fans were hoping to celebrate a league title this season, but it was stolen from us. But today we give them the joy and happiness that comes with winning a trophy. We faced a team that is dangerous when playing in a defensive way but we managed to create a lot of chances, played good football and were worthy winners.”
Jimenez laments below-par AEK, is happy to stay
For his part, AEK boss Manolo Jimenez lamented his bitter disappointment at suffering a second cup final loss in a row, but said AEK was the best team overall this season and is keen to stay for a crack at the Champions League.
“Of course it is bitterly disappointing that we have lost two cup finals in a row, even if last season’s was unjust with the offside goal,” said the Spaniard.
“But today PAOK was the better team and deserved the victory, so congratulations to them,” he added. “I don’t think it was a lack of passion or hunger that cost us today. When we left the hotel I saw plenty of passion in my players. They were all shouting, chanting and were more than up for the game. This is one of those cases that we have to simply concede that PAOK was the better team tonight and they deserved to win.”
“But AEK showed in all of the big derby matches this season that we are the best team; we performed well when it mattered most – in the big games - while earning important points home and away.”
“We had a difficult schedule, played around 50 matches and had a lot of serious injury problems with important players. Despite this we had a good run in Europe and were close to the domestic league and cup double. Considering all of this, it’s clear that we are the best team in Greece this season.”
On his future, Jimenez said: “Naturally I will sit down with the club owner and we will see where we go from here. The important thing is that I want to continue with AEK and AEK wants to continue with me. We have a few things to discuss before we finalize things but everything looks positive.”