And Bas Nijhuis chooses… Aris
The unbelievable Dutch referee Bas Nijhuis did everything to ruin Sunday’s match and he succeeded. Aris prevailed 1-0 courtesy of a non-existent penalty in the first half.
Everyone was expecting a tough game, a derby that would be decided by the finer details. And of course they were right. What we did not expect, and did not want to happen, was that the attention to would turn away from the real protagonists, the players, and onto the Dutch referee.
A dangerous referee who managed to do everything wrong in an important game, and decide the outcome of the match with his decisions.
Aris tried to spring an early surprise and hit the crossbar through Gama with a free-kick after two minutes. But PAOK took control of hte game after that and started threatening the opposition goal. The match had passion and some tough marking, with play constantly getting broken up, although the Double-headed Eagle threatened with shots from Andrija Zivkovic and Christos Tzolis .
In the 38th minute came the first intervention by of Nijhuis. Bertolio raced into the penalty area, Paschalakis clearly parried the ball away, but the Dutch referee and VAR, had a different opinion, and the official pointed to the penalty spot. In fact, Nijhuis did not even go to watch the phase of play on the monitor.
Gama scored from the spot, shortly afterwards Boucher saved Schwab’s scissor-kick effort in the last phase of play and the first half ended with the score at 1-0.
In the second half the pattern of play did not change. Aris, having the lead, did not try to play football and instead tried to shut up shop, with the opposition players mainly interested in whether or not Douglas would get a second yellow card. PAOK, on the other hand, found it hard to break through despite dominating possession, with Swiderski missing a good opportunity to score in the 56th minute.
In the 63rd minute Wague made a goal-saving clearance, taking one for the team in the process by injuring himself after colliding with the post. The Senegalese had to limp out of the game and was replaced by Crespo.
In the 72nd minute, it was time for Nijhuis to strike again. Tziolis dribbled his way into the penalty area, was fouled by Sasha, but got back up quickly and managed to wriggle his way past three defenders. Sundgren then fouled him in the area again, and the referee pointed to the spot. However, this time he went over to see it via the VAR monitor and cancelled his original decision, while not even bothering to book Sasha.
Zivkovic then missed another great opportunity in the 85th minute with a shot on the move after a pass from Colak, before Nijhuis completed his night’s work in added time. After a cross came into the Aris penalty area, Boucher lost the ball and Bakalianis stopped it with his hand, after which Nijhuis whistled… for the end of the game, and of course the VAR did not even bother to deal with that final incident.
The final whistle was greeted with furious protests from the PAOK players to the referee, while the opposition celebrated the gifts they received from the Dutchman and with which they achieved the only goal they had this season.
Aris: Boucher, Sundgren, Sakic, Benalouane, Delizisis, Matilla, Lucas Sasha (90+ Bakalianis), Bertoglio (77’ Djeggo), Mateo Garcia (61’ Silva), Bruno Gama, Manos (61’ Lopez)