PAOK left AEK behind, execution-style
PAOK recorded a 2-1 victory over AEK Athens on the first matchday of the play-offs and overtook them in the standings.
This victory has added value, as Vladan Ivić’s troops were deprived of their fans in banned Toumba, while also falling behind just before the interval. Meanwhile, the last-minute absences of Róbert Mak and Miguel Vítor slightly changed the plans of the “Double-Headed Eagle’s” head coach.
The match kicked off at a low pace due to the “coldness” of the empty stadium and the teams’ lack of activity for almost a month. There were scarcely any chances to score in the first half and quite a few duels in midfield. AEK mostly tried to make something out of set pieces and managed to take the lead in the 44th minute… by chance. Panagiotis Glykos somehow got tangled up in an effort to block the ball after Johansson’s header.
PAOK had a huge task ahead of them in the second half, trailing and without support. But they picked up their performance considerably and capitalized on AEK’s weakness in the flanks.
Mainly through Garry Rodrigues and Jairo (switching positions in the wings) and substantial help by Marin Leovac and Stelios Kitsiou as full wings, PAOK moved the game to AEK’s area. They first fired warning shots with Dimitris Pelkas and Rodrigues, before equalizing in the 62nd minute through an absolute belter by the Cape Verde forward.
PAOK were dominating and patiently looking for available space in AEK’s defence. Such matches are usually decided by a stroke of genius. Such was Giorgos Tzavellas’s inspired 40-metre cross that beat the offside trap and allowed young striker Giannis Mystakidis to score the winner with a great lobbed header.
Two beautiful goals, intense focus and patience were the recipe for PAOK’s successful debut in the play-off procedure. Now they have legitimate claims to the top.
PΑΟΚ: Glykos, Κitsiou, Μalezas, Τzavellas, Leovac (68’ Skondras), Τziolis, Cimirot, Pelkas (66’ Κace), Jairo (81’ Μystakidis), Rodrigues, Αthanasiadis.
ΑΕΚ Athens: Baroja, Galo, Arzo, Kolovetsios, Didac (58’ Soiledis), Simões, Johansson (84′ Pekhart), Vargas (70’ Cordero), Αravidis, Barbosa, Djebbour.