The habit that became an addiction!
In an incredible match between Greece’s top two sides, Michael Krmencik scored a buzzer-beater of a goal to hand the Greek Cup to the Double-headed Eagle.
PAOK won yet another cup final at the OAKA, this time against Olympiacos and celebrated the eighth cup success of the club’s history.
The Double-headed Eagle went in front after 35 minutes through a penalty converted by Vieirinha , but Olympiacos made it 1-1 in the 50th minute through M’Vila. However, PAOK had the answer and Krmencik’s 90th-minute strike clinched the trophy.
It was a game that had it all. A real battle of a match, one straight out of the dreams of football fans everywhere. There was intensity in abundance, passion, a quick tempo, intricate tactics, and a lot of emotions.
The two teams came out onto the pitch in the mood to play their football and compensated handsomely those who decided to watch it.
PAOK had goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis in excellent form, with the big shot-stopper saving brilliantly from Bruma in the 12th minute for the game’s first big chance. The Double-headed Eagle responded three minutes later with a shot by Amr Warda that was blocked by Jose Sa, and then Karol Swiderski sent a header onto the crossbar in the 26th minute as PAOK again went close.
The big moment of the first half, however, came in the 34th minute. Stefan Schwab sought to latch onto a clever, lofted pass into the penalty area from Swiderski but he was obstructed by M’Vila. The Dutch referee Danny Makeli had no hesitation in pointing to the spot and it was up to The Leader to draw first blood.
And just as he did in 2018, Adelino Vieirinha scored a goal from a set-piece, slotting his penalty into Sa’s bottom right corner to give PAOK a 1-0 lead at half-time.
Olympiacos began the second half strongly in response to going behind, and the Red and Whites leveleled the match within just five minutes of the restart, with M’Vila making amends for his penalty-conceding foul by volleying home unmarked from Olympiacos’ first corner of the game.
Within five minutes both teams had missed chances to take the lead. First the irrepressible Paschalakis made another incredible save to deny Giorgos Masoura’s flying header, while shortly afterwards Swiderski raced through on goal and almost beat Sa with a cheeky backheeled effort, only to see the Olympiacos goalkeeper pull off a fine save.
In the 59th minute, a revitalized Olympiacos threatened again, this time with substitute Kostas Fortounis, but Paschalakis was there once again to keep his team level.
As the clock wore on, PAOK managed to step up its own performance. In the 80th minute, the coaching staff threw Michael Krmencik into the battle, and it was a move that was to decide the game.
The Czech forward, after failing to score from two guilt-edge chances in the space of a minute – one a lob in the 84th minute and the second a shot that was saved by Sa a minute later, made it third time lucky.
An incredible backheel assist from Andrija Zivkovic sent Krmencik scampering clean through on goal, and this time he slotted past Sa and made it 2-1 to PAOK in the final minute of normal time.
Paschalakis then bravely denied both Andreas Bouchalakis and Mathieu Valbouena in the 93rd minute to ensure PAOK held firm to their lead.
The final whistle was greeted by jubilant celebratios among the PAOK players and staff as the Double-headed Eagle left the OAKA with the trophy once again, winning their fourth consecutive final and adding another piece of silverware to the club’s trophy cabinet.
Olympiacos: Sa, Papastathopoulos (25′ Reabciuk), ,M’Vila, Semedo, Androutsos, Cholebas, Kamara (90′ Valbuena), Bouchalakis, Masouras (86′ Hassan), Bruma (46′ Fortounis), El Arabi.
PAOK: Paschalakis, Crespo, Varela, Vieirinha, Baba, Rodrigo, Schwab, Douglas, A. Zivkovic, Warda (80′ Tsingaras ), Swiderski (80′ Krmencik ).