A step closer
PAOK players and coach often underline there are no easy games in the Greek league. But they can all prove easy if Răzvan Lucescu’s troops bring their potential on the pitch.
The Rizoupoli match against bottom-placed Apollon Smyrni was a tricky one, as the home side were starved for points.
PAOK however made it clear right from the start that they were not in the mood for unnecessary adventure. In a magical start, they took a 2-0 lead within 9 minutes and sealed victory.
Dimitris Pelkas netted the opener with a header on an Adelino Vieirinha cross in the 4th minute. Five minutes later, Sérgio Oliveira opened his PAOK account with an astonishing shot.
Apollon tried to react, but Alexandros Paschalakis was there to stop Thomás. The latter also wasted a one-on-one opportunity in the 15th minute.
PAOK took firm control of the encounter and extended their lead before the interval. Diego Biseswar collected Dimitris Limnios’s pass to culminate an excellent attacking move of his team.
Chuba Akpom came close to the goal of the year with a back-heel move, but Huanderson denied him.
The two sides kept their high pace after returning from the dressing rooms, PAOK in total command of proceedings.
The home outfit managed to reduce distances in the 64th minute with a fine shot by D’Urso from outside the box. But then the players introduced by Lucescu into the game sealed PAOK’s triumph.
Two minutes after coming off the bench, Karol Świderski collected José Ángel Crespo’s assist and made it 1-4. Pedro Henrique netted the fifth goal of PAOK –and his first since returning to the club– with a long-range shot that got deflected off a defender before the ball got buried in the back of the net.
PAOK’s distance from second-placed Olympiakos is back to nine points, with nine more matches to go until the end.
Apollon Smyrni: Huanderson, Kyrgias, Vafeas, Orihuela, Stathis, Kontoes (46’ Gino), D’Urso, Rossi (46’ Varkas), Thomás, El-Helwe, Defederico.