A perfect reaction and... one foot in the quarter-finals
PAOK had forgotten what it was like to lose. But Abel Ferreira’s men have certainly not forgotten how to react. The Dikefalos tou Vorra put their defeat to Aris at the Kleanthis Vikelides firmly in the past on Tuesday with a superb 3-0 win over OFI in Heraklion in the Greek Cup which puts them in the driving seat for a place in the quarter-finals of the competition.
Everything began with a big question. How would PAOK react after losing for the first time in 51 matches in their last game? And this was logical. After all, all eyes were on PAOK to see how they would respond to the setback, and in the end the answer was an emphatic and exceptional one in this Greek Cup Round of 16, first-leg contest.
Abel Ferreira’s team were a joy to watch at a windswept and rainy Yedi Kule, and after tonight’s result have virtually sealed their place in the next round of the Greek Cup. There were big performances all over the pitch, but once again Josip Misic led the way with a superb display which included three assists from the Croatian midfield maestro.
The Dikefalos tou Vorra started strongly, and even though the pitch was far from perfect due to the constant rain that has been falling in Crete for the last three days, the team managed to play some high quality, attractive football with the ball on the deck, and create numerous chances.
The first goal arrived after 24 minutes when Misic sent a stunning low center into the path of Dimitris Limnios who met it perfectly to slam the ball into the roof of the OFI net from close range to make it 1-0.
PAOK continued to play at a quck tempo, moving the ball around well and on 32 minutes they doubled the advantage. This time it was more of a team goal, with 17 passes ending with Misic teeing up Diego Biseswar for another easy tap-in to make it 2-0.
After half-time, PAOK stepped off the gas somewhat and that allowed OFI space to counter attack, which they did effectively on a number of occasions but without being able to get a breakthrough. PAOK also missed chances with both Chuba Akpom and Biseswar going close, but the English striker did find the net in the 63rd minute with a clinical, low show into the bottom left corner of the OFI goal after another excellent pass from you know who – Misic of course!
Substitute Lampros Lamprou failed to convert a good chance on 77 minutes, while goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis saved well in the final minutes as OFI tried desperately to pull a goal back. Enea Mihaj made his debut and the final 3-0 scoreline has given PAOK a superb advantage ahead of the return leg at the Toumba next week.
ΟΦΗ: Whalley, Braun, Koutroubis, Marinakis, Korosevis, Staikos, Neira (81’ Nikokyrakis), Vaz (60’ Mellado), Semedo, Tsilianidis, Manos (60’ Figueiredo)