PAOK recorded a very important and hard-fought 2-1 victory over Panionios in Toumba Stadium and sealed a difficult week with a third three-pointer.
Panionios visited Toumba in order to defend their third place in the standings and fielded their usual behind-the-ball system, searching for the long cross towards Boumale or Karamanos to initiate counterattacks.
PAOK started well, aiming to get control of the encounter and manage to break through their rivals’ thick defensive wall. The opener came rather early through Róbert Mak in the 11th minute. But the home side failed to build on that advantage. The Nea Smyrni outfit got more time on the ball. However PAOK did waste a few chances before the interval –mainly through set pieces-, while Panionios’ few shots were harmless.
When the teams returned for the second half, the complexion of the encounter changed upruptly, due to a free-kick invented by referee Vatsios and awarded to Panionios. Ikonomou converted it to goal, equalizing the tie. Igor Tudor shuffled his deck quickly, introduced Erik Sabo and Dimitris Konstantinidis on the pitch and turned his system to a 4-3-3. The newcomers (along with Ergys Kace who came off the bench at half-time) increased PAOK’s tempo. The team gained more metres on the pitch and prevailed over their stress by carving out good chances to score.
They scored in the 79th minute, when Konstantinidis produced a pin-point cross and Giorgos Tzavellas got behind the defenders’ back to score the winner with a well-taken header.
PAOK handled their fatigue and anxiety very well, returned to their winning ways at Toumba and recorded a third consecutive victory (all in one week), climbing to third place of the standings.
PΑΟΚ: Glykos, Vítor (60′ Konstantinidis), Tzavellas, Malezas, Golasa (46′ Kace), Rodrigues, Tziolis, Mak, Leovac, Pelkas (55′ Sabo), Athanasiadis.
Panionios: Dioudis, Ikonomou, Risvanis, Chatziisaias, Αrgyropoulos, Μasouras (74′ Κatharios), Boumale, Siopis, Κorbos (83′ Villalba), Κaramanos (55′ Chalkiadakis), Ansarifard.