Signed, sealed, delivered by Prijo
PAOK recorded their first victory in the Super League play-offs, prevailing 1-0 over Panionios with a pithy performance.
Despite featuring a much-changed starting line-up, the “Double-Headed Eagle” were superior throughout the encounter, had staggering possession stats and several opportunities to score, in their effort to record their first victory in the play-offs.
Settling on the ball right from the start and controlling proceedings, PAOK made their presence felt in the opposite box, with Marin Leovac and Achilleas Pouggouras coming close to an opener in the first 25 minutes.
A strong header by Stefanos Athanasiadis in the 39th minute, after a pin-point cross by Dimitris Pelkas, also flew wide.
PAOK’s biggest chance to break the deadlock was recorded in the 44th minute, when Athanasiadis provided an excellent defence-splitting pass to Léo Matos. The Brazilian full-back fed Diego Biseswar, but the latter struck the exterior side of the post.
Djalma Campos also wasted a gilt-edged opportunity just before the interval. Teed up by Pelkas, he sent his header away.
Despite dominating the encounter, the black-and-whites couldn’t convert their superiority to goals, their finishing leaving much to be desired.
The “Double-Headed Eagle” kept on striking the woodwork in the second half as well. In the 54th minute, Pelkas produced a stunning direct free-kick, but was denied by the post.
In the 68th minute, Panionios were reduced to ten players, after Masoud was given his marching orders, getting his second booking of the evening for dangerous foul play on Stelios Malezas.
PAOK’s efforts to seal their dominance did bear fruit in the 75th minute with Aleksandar Prijović netting a breathtaking goal. Chest control, flick-up and lob over Vlachos and left-foot volleyed finish to stun Gianniotis!
Five minutes later, Biseswar and Campos combined impeccably with the former providing the finish, but Panionios’s goalkeeper touched the ball wide.
Gianniotis prevented Prijović from completing a brace in the 89th minute. He volleyed out for a corner the close-range effort of the Serbian striker, who had been brilliantly served by Biseswar.
The “Double-Headed Eagle” celebrated an extremely important victory halfway into the play-offs.
PΑΟΚ: Glykos, Μatos, Μalezas, Pouggouras, Leovac (46’ Κitsiou), Cañas, Cimirot, Biseswar, Campos (87’ Κoulouris), Pelkas, Αthanasiadis (62’ Prijović).
Panionios: Gianniotis, Αntoniadis, Ikonomou, Risvanis, Vlachos, Κorbos, Siopis (46’ Tapoko), Μasouras, Masoud, Κatharios (67’ Savvidis), Ben (84’ Voukelatos).