A thousand and one wins in Harilaou
Against Olympiacos at the weekend PAOK chalked up 1,000 wins in the Greek top flight. Yesterday the club celebrated its 95th birthday. And tonight, in Harilaou the Double-headed Eagle began the next millennia of matches with another win to move closer to second place.
A good week then which helped PAOK to move up both in terms of points and in psychologically, and keep going strong until the end of the season as nothing is over just yet.
In order for the Double-headed Eagle to get the win, there were plenty of difficulties to overcome. First was the absence of Ingi Ingason , who did not start due to a knee injury, then there was the injury to Jose Crespo in the second half, and finally the sending off of Amr Warda which left the team with a numerical disadvantage in the closing stages.
But nothing of those things could stand in the way of PAOK getting the three points, with the team emerging from the dressing rooms for kick-off with a clear plan, decisiveness, and complete focus on the job in hand.
That was clear right from the start, when what proved to be the only goal of the game came along. Schwab fed Swiderski down the right. The Polish forward then turned inside and held up play before slipping a brilliant reverse pass into the path of the arriving Austrian midfielder, who prodded home with a clever finish to beat Julian Cuesta to make it 0-1.
The Double-headed Eagle allowed the home side to have some possession after that, but they could not do any damage with it against an exceptional black and white defensive line that closed down the spaces and routes to goal time and again, with goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis also making two blocks from Mancini when they did managed to get a sight of goal.
In the 44th minute the visitors could have doubled their advantage, but Cuesta produced a big save to deny Omar El Kaddouri’s lob.
In the second half the pattern of the game did not change. PAOK missed wo solid chances with Schwab initially after 62 minutes, who shot off target from inside the penalty area, and then from Α.Zivkovic who was denied by Cuesta in the 66th mninute.
PAOK looked comfortable in defending their one-goal lead with little goal threat coming from the home side. In the 86th minute the Double-headed Eagle were left with 10 players when Warda was booked twice in the space of two minutes.
Aris tried to take advantage of the extra man, but they did not manage to do so, with Paschalakis making a stunning save to deny Bertoglio in the home side’s only real chance after the sending-off.
And so PAOK came away from the «Kleanthis Vikelidis» with three points and is now level on 57 points with Aris in second place.
Aris: Cuesta, Sakic (70’ Sundgren), Rose, Delizisis, Ganea, Sasha, Jeggo (Matilla), Garcia (78’ Silva), Bertoglio, Mancini (59’ Gama), Manos (78’ Mitroglou).