It is hard to believe that PAOK managed to lose this match… Panathinaikos created just three chances and scored twice aided by some sloppy defending. A 96-minute effort went to waste, but was acknowledged by the Toumba faithful. Despite the 1-2 defeat, PAOK still lead the standings, however Olympiacos is now just two points away.
The final scoreline doesn’t reflect the complexion of the encounter or PAOK’s effort. Despite their fatigue, the «Double-Headed Eagle» tried to press high up the pitch and keep the ball in their opponents’ half looking for a chance to score. In the first half, apart from a shot wide by Dimitris Salpingidis, Stefanos Athanasiadis’ play that was cancelled on the offside rule and a header by Christos Donis saved by Panagiotis Glykos, no other scoring opportunities emerged.
The match suddenly sprang into life after the interval. Viktor Klonaridis instigated a counter attack and produced a cross that Giorgos Katsikas, Glykos and Nikos Spyropoulos all failed to clear, much to the delight of Abdul Jeleel Ajagun who broke the deadlock. Angelos Anastasiadis shuffled his deck introducing attacking duo Dimitris Papadopoulos–Facundo Pereyra. The latter leveled the encounter curling home a long-range free-kick. Seconds later, Papadopoulos charged forward, but misjudged his control and failed to shoot or pass to the unmarked Argentinian, who was lurking in front of goal. PAOK were to pay for that miss… Another of Panathinaikos’ counters saw Glykos saving twice Nikos Karelis’ efforts from point blank. However on the second save, the ball’s effect was such that it escaped and crossed the goalline. Luck was not on PAOK’s side on Sunday evening…
PAOK continued to pressure Panathinaikos in their half and tried to turn the tide in their favour with shots, crosses and combinations. But the Athenian outfit had already retreated closing all spaces towards Luke Steele’s goal. The “Double-Headed Eagle” suffered their first league defeat in a game that they could have won. They paid dearly for their scarce errors allowing the rival to speculate with a result that unexpectedly fell into their lap.
A special mention to the 26.000 faithful at Toumba Stadium, who created a unique atmosphere, supported the team until the final whistle and afterwards rewarded the players’ effort with a warm applause.
PΑΟΚ (Anastasiadis): Glykos, Spyropoulos, Katsikas (81′ Martens), Vítor, Kitsiou, Golasa,Tzandaris, Tziolis, Kace, Salpingidis (57′ Pereyra), Athanasiadis (56′ Papadopoulos).
Panathinaikos (Anastasiou): Steele, Bourbos, Koutroubis, Schildenfeld (74′ Triantafyllopoulos), Nano, Bouy, Donis, Pranjić (68′ Lagos), Karelis, Klonaridis (60′ Petrić), Ajagun.