PAOK show character in Agrinio away win
PAOK faced three consecutive matches away from home. One was a European match, while the other two were league matches at grounds where nobody will have any easy night this season. The Double-headed Eagle, however, displayed focus, concentration and decisiveness to achieve they goal and wrap up a difficult six days with a third win on the road by beating Panetolikos 2-1 in Agrinio.
As everyone in the PAOK camp has emphasized in interviews, the current project is a new effort that takes time. Time for everyone to acclimatize, to learn their specific role on the pitch, and for the team to begin to show a level of automation and comfort with their game. At the same time, however, there is no room for any loss of points, and this has been on everyone’s mind.
The winning mentality that Razvan Lucescu wants so much to instill into the minds of his players made an appearance again in Agrinio. Despite coming up against a strong and tough opponent, PAOK refused to lose or settle for anything less that three points. The team fought until the final whistle and celebrated a great victory in the end.
The Double-headed Eagle coach decided not to make many changes. Taylor took the injured Vieirinha’s place on the right and Douglas started instead of Biseswar behind Akpom, who was preferred to Swiderski up front.
PAOK began the match dynamically and threatened early on in the 2nd minute through Murg , who was thwarted by Rodriguez. PAOK missed another opportunity in the 15th minute, this time through Douglas, before the phase of the first half came along in the 32nd minute that was to change the game.
Douglas served up an excellent pass from 40-yards to take out the home team’s defense, and Mitrita gleefully scored his first goal in the Greek championship with a header to put PAOK 1-0 ahead.
Panetolikos responded immediately and pushed forward to try and pull level, missing a great opportunity in first-half added time as Morsay failed to convert from a good position.
The scene was reversed at the start of the second half. In the 47th minute Lucas Taylor missed a great opportunity as home goalkeeper Rodriguez saved the day, making a great stop in a one-on-one situation.
The hosts reacted quickly again and looked for the equalizer, which came in the 59th minute. Vergos headed on a corner and the ball arrived for Diaz to nod the ball home and make it 1-1.
That set up a grandstand finish to the game, which proved to be a bit like a… rodeo. The pace and tempo was great, with both teams trying their utmost to threaten and score what would surely be the winning goal.
Paschalakis produced a great save in the 62nd minute to deny Lluy, before both coaches made their moves in terms of bringing on substitutes, and then the match was decided in the 80th minute.
Sidcley collected the ball from Swiderski in the penalty area and showed impeccable movement and execution to find the back of the net to make it 2-1 to PAOK. There was still time for Paschalakis to keep out Panetolikos’ last-gasp attempt at another equalizer, with the big goalkeeper shutting out Karelis’ effort in the 89th minute.
That was the last goalmouth action as PAOK went on to celebrate their third consecutive away victory in all competitions, and the focus now turns to this weekend when PAOK returns to their base in Thessaloniki to face AEK on Sunday (26.09, 20:30) at the Toumba.
Panetolikos (Giannis Anastasiou): Rodriguez, Chouchoumis, Vrgoc, Lluy, Vergos, Diaz, Cornelius (85′ Malis), Duarte (81′ Barbosa), Flores (70′ Varone), Morsay (46′ Mendoras), Tsingaras (85′ Karelis).