Two headers, three points
Despite the events of last Sunday’s still being fresh in the memory creating extra anxiety, PAOK managed to power through it all and win a hard-fought derby against Panathinaikos 2-1 at the Toumba in what was the final league match of 2020, bringing the first half of the 2020-21 Super League Interwetten to a close.
This time it was the football and players from both sides who were the protagonists. And when it comes down to that, PAOK rarely come off second best. Laszlo Boloni’s Panathinikos came to the Toumba to play football, and the Double-headed Eagle came out in determined mood to get the win. And, after a little over 90 minutes of extreme football action filled with intensity and passion, the home side clinched victory in the final derby match of the season.
The first quarter of an hour of the match had everything. The tempo was high right from the kick-off, both teams tried to threaten and create chances, and at 16 minutes the score was already 1-1.
PAOK went ahead through Karol Swiderski , who found the net with a header from Dimitris Giannoulis’ cross in the 11th minute, while just five minutes later the match was level when Panathinaikos scored through Aitor folowing an assist from Federico Macheda with his head.
PAOK attempted to do what Panathinaikos had done and respond immediately, but visiting goalkeeper Xenopoulos saved well from Swiderski in the 19th minute. Up until the second half both teams had a decent chance apiece, with the Greens threatening through Macheda’s free-kick which narrowly missed the target, and then Swiderski failing to beat Xenopoulos after being released by an exceptional pass from Christos Tziolis.
In the second half the pattern of the game did not change. PAOK had control and most of the possession, while Panathinaikos tried to put some pressure on and did not sit on their laurels. There was not a significant goal threat from either side until the 65th minute when Ingi Ingason intervened to provide the match-wining goal.
The Icelandic defender scored for the first time in a year, showing once again that December is his month by heading home from Swiderski’s assist.
After that goal PAOK managed the remainder of the game well, and indeed the home side could have had another goal in the 77th minute but Douglas was denied by Xenopoulos’ crossbar.
In the closing minutes Boloni threw all his players forward in an attempt to grab an equalizer, but PAOK held on comfortably without being threatened, going on to celebrate an important three-point haul.
Panathinaikos (Laszlo Boloni): Xenopoulos, Sanchez (89’ Bouzoukis), Schenkeveld, Pouggouras (82’ Alexandropoulos), Juankar, Velez, Mauricio, Villafanez (72’ Carlitos), Chatzigiovanis, Aitor (82’ Emmanouilidis), Macheda (72’ Ioannidis).