PAOK show character in win over Asteras Tripolis
After the disappointment of Thursday in Europe, PAOK faced a tough challenge at the Toumba, one of those matches where players need to show character. This is a trait that PAOK have demonstrated on several occasions so far this season, especially when the club is in a tight spot. And the Double-headed Eagle did it again on Sunday.
With Rodrigo forced off injured after just 20 minutes and El Kaddouri red-carded in the 38th minute, the match threatened to go horribly wrong from early on. Or perhaps it was these things that made the match what it was. Because PAOK’s response was stellar. With patience, maturity and passion, the hosts took the game by the scruff of its neck. One of the main protagonists was the Golden Boy once more. Christos Tziolis with his quality, and his ability to be a killer when given space. And the final 2-0 score against Asteras Tripolis was another example.
The coaching team opted to rotate the squad, with Ingason , Michailidis and Giannoulis in the starting XI, playing in front of Paschalakis , while Douglas returned to the team alongside Schwab and El Kaddouri in midfield.
PAOK took control of the match from the start, keeping the ball well, but without creating much in the way of a route to goal to threaten Papadopoulos in the Asteras goal apart from a header from Ingason .
After 20 minutes came the first obstacle. Rodrigo Soares limped out of the match injured and caused the coaching team to change their plans. As if that wasn’t enough, after 35 minutes Omar El Kaddouti reacted badly in a duel with Borja after a phase of play in which the Moroccan protested for a penalty, and he was shown a red card from Fotia. The first half ended without a goal from either side, with PAOK seemingly on the ropes with a player less.
The pattern of the game changed completely in the second half. The Double-headed Eagle players came out in determined mood, managing to handle the numerical disadvantage perfectly, chasing down and closing the spaces at the back, while looking to break on the counter attack.
Just moments after the visitors went close through Regis, the young Greek forward picked up possession and went off on a mazy run which ended with him sending a brilliant shot past Papadopoulos in the 64th minute. Then just six minutes later he broke through the Asteras defence before being brought down by Pasalidis in the penalty box, with Fotia pointing to the spot. Zivkovic stepped up to slot the penalty home and make it 2-0.
The remainder of the match saw PAOK hold on firmly to their lead, with the visitors failing to pose a dangerous threat to Paschalakis’ goal with the exception of a free-kick from Gomes in the 90th minute.
That meant that PAOK celebrated its fifth win in a row in the league, a result which saw the Double-headed Eagle up to second place, with the next challenge of the agenda coming next Thursday with the final match of the Europa League against Granada.
Asteras Tripolis: Papadopoulos, Garcia, Suarez, (60’ Pasalidis), Castano, Alvarez (60’ Tasoulis), Valiente (60’ Iglesias), Fernandez (78’ Gomez), Tilica, Riera, Sito (78’ Tzimas), Crespi.