Strong second half helps PAOK see off Apollon
PAOK dominated proceedings of this Super League Interwetten Matchday 8 clash against Apollon Smyrnis, but it was a powerful second half display that helped them to prevail 4-1 at the Toumba and return to winning ways.
With the energy and passion of the Gate 4 faithful behind the team – after the famous section of the stands welcome supporters again after two years due to Covid-19, and bearing in mind that the coming week features another two difficult games against Copenhagen and Panathinaikos, PAOK wanted to wrap up victory as early as possible against the Light Brigade.
And this was evident in Razvan Lucescu’s aggressive team selection featuring a lot of attacking players to try and unlock the visitors’ multi-faceted defense. Everything seemed to be going to plan early on when Stefan Schwab put PAOK in front from the penalty spot after Lucas Taylor was fouled inside the penalty area.
The Double-headed Eagle’s lead did not last long, however. Apollon Smyrnis found a response in the 14th minute with a header by Pamlidis, scoring from their only opportunity of the game.
PAOK did not let that setback get to them, and the home side pushed forward continuously to try and get back in front. However, Kotsaris denied them with two great saves from Biseswar’s free-kick and from a shot by Douglas, while Swiderski and Vieirinha also went close in the last minutes of the first half.
In the second half, however, PAOK picked up from where they left off at the end of the first, looking determined and dominant. The hosts lay siege to the visitors’ goal and started peppering the goal with shots. In the 48th minute, Ioannidis cleared a Swiderski effort off the line, before in the 57th minute, El Kaddouri scored but his goal was ruled out after a VAR review. PAOK found the goal they were looking for though in the 66th minute.
That breakthrough came after some good work by El Kaddouri , who provided the assist for Swiderski, with the Polish striker beating the opposing goalkeeper with an clinical finish to make it 2-1.
Six minutes later, Giannis Michailidis locked up the three-point haul with an excellent header after a free-kick from Andrija Zivkovic. Douglas Augusto then got his name on the scoresheet in the fourth minute of added time from the penalty spot after Akpom had been upended to complete the scoring.
PAOK are now back to winning ways and now everyone’s attention in the Double-headed Eagle camp turns to the upcoming battle at the Toumba against Copenhagen on Matchday 4 of the UEFA Europa Conference League group stage.
PAOK (Razvan Lucescu): Paschalakis, Taylor, Varela, Michailidis, Vieirinha (73′ Rodrigo), Schwab (74′ Kurtic), El Kaddouri (77′ Murg), Augusto, A. Zivkovic, Biseswar (84′ Konstantelias), Swiderski (77′ Akpom).
Apollon Smyrnis (Gianluca Festa): Kotsaris, Baxevanidis, Tutarima, Lisgaras (62′ Dentakis), Domingues, Fatjon, Castro, Martines (62′ Matei), Tsiloulis (85′ Sahli), Pamlidis (77′ La Parra), Ioannidis (85′ Dauda).