A step closer to the trophy
PAOK did their duty and qualified for the Greek Cup semi-finals, despite their goalless draw with Panionios. The “Double-Headed Eagle” handled successfully the first-leg result, their full injury list and the players’ stress to reach their goal.
But PAOK had to survive quite a few scares before securing their qualification to the semi-finals. Panionios risked, visited Markos Vellidis’s box first and wasted a good chance to go ahead with Ansarifard. At the same time, PAOK, who fielded an emergency line-up, were trying to find their footing and failed to combine successfully and become creative upfront.
During half-time, Igor Tudor shuffled his pack and introduced Ergys Kace and Eyal Golasa in the place of Stefanos Athanasiadis (complained of hamstring pains) and Alexandros Tziolis, in order to pressure more in the midfield –and it proved a successful move.
Despite Panionios going close just after the interval with a shot by Ansarifard blocked by Vellidis, PAOK gained the reins of the encounter, closed all spaces and wasted several chances for a winner – a header by Dimitris Pelkas and shots by Róbert Mak and Giannis Skondras.
In the dying minutes of the encounter, the “Double-Headed Eagle” kept possession of the ball to safeguard their qualification. More than 10.000 spectators at Toumba Stadium applauded the players’ effort in the end, acknowledging the difficult circumstances they went through, with back-to-back matches and a long injury list.
PΑΟΚ: Vellidis, Kitsiou, Vítor, Chatziisaias, Skondras, Tziolis (Kace 46′), Cimirot, Pelkas, Athanasiadis (Golasa 46′), Berbatov, Mak
Panionios: Dioudis, Ikonomou (Τasoulis 84′) , Κorbos, Risvanis, Vlachos, Siopis, Τzandaris (Κatharios 80′), Μasouras (Bargan 61′), Bakasetas, Κaramanos, Ansarifard.