PAOK on their way to the stars
The “Double-Headed Eagle” recorded a huge victory over Panionios in Nea Smyrni, confirming their determination to win the play-offs.
Vladan Ivić’s team were in command throughout the encounter, dictated pace and managed to escape unscathed even when the home side applied pressure.
Although Panionios are a very well organized team defensively, PAOK started brightly and through their good passing game they managed to create space and opportunities to score.
Stefanos Athanasiadis rarely needs more than a couple of chances in order to score, as he is the most efficient striker of the league. On Monday, he wasted the first two opportunities he got. In the 5th minute he failed to tap in the ball from up close and in the 23rd minute his header didn’t find the back of the net. But, at the third time of asking, he gave PAOK the lead with a powerful volley from inside the box.
After the interval, PAOK continued to dominate and encountered solutions when Panionios pushed for the equalizer. They survived from Panionios’ biggest chance in the match (Karamanos 64’) and then never looked back.
They regained possession of the ball –Dimitar Berbatov’s introduction on the pitch helped a lot–, kept the rivals away from their box and camped outside Dioudis’s area. In one of several attempts by Marin Leovac from the left, the Croatian full back won a seemingly lost ball and teet up Róbert Mak who made it 2-0 in the 76th minute.
Panionios had the opportunity to reduce distances in the 89th minute, but Ikonomou sent his spot kick wide. PAOK have now 7 points in the play-offs and hold their fate in their hands. Despite being on their 11th month of continuous activity, despite having gone through a season of many ups-and-downs and as many injuries, they are proving their mettle at exactly the right time…
Panionios: Dioudis, Vlachos, Τasoulis, Ikonomou, Risvanis, Siopis, Korbos (75′ Κatharios), Μasouras, Chalkiadakis (84′ Villalba), Κaramanos, Ansarifard (46′ Bargan).