Never give up…
When you’ve hit the woodwork four times, have had four goals disallowed and the opposition goalkeeper is having the game of his life, it’s logical for any team to get disheartened. Not so for this PAOK side. The team’s motto of ‘Never Give Up’ came to the fore one more with Abel Ferreira’s players scoring two goals in the final 10 minutes to claim another invaluable three-point haul on Super League Matchday 13.
PAOK faced Xanthi, the fourth-placed team in the Super League, at the Toumba. As far as opponents go, they have built up a reputation as a difficult side to score against, and so it proved again, even if the Akrites also needed a large dose of luck on this occasion.
From PAOK’s side, the players were determined not to be denied the win, and that’s why they battled until the final whistle to get the three points at all costs.
The final 2-0 scoreline seems rather paltry given the performance. PAOK created a remarkable 26 attempts on goal, with 14 of those on target and another four ending up hitting the frame of the goal. And then there was Xanthi ‘keeper Carlos Abad who produced a stunning performance between the posts for the visitors.
In the first half PAOK set the tone for what was to come by hitting the woodwork three times. Two of those came from shots by Dimitris Pelkas and one from Adelino Vierinha, while Karol Swiderski also had a goal ruled out for offside.
The pattern of the game remained the same in the second half. Ferreira’s team laid siege to the visitors’ goal, penning them in and not allowing them even a sniff of a counter attack.
The Dikefalos tou Vorra found the back of the net twice through Swiderski – again – and Chuba Akpom, but both were chalked off after VAR reviews.
Jose Crespo then hit the woodwork and it seemed like it would not be PAOK’s day. That was until the final 10 minutes when the players never-say-due attitude brought the rewards that their efforts deserved.
The influential figure was Diego Biseswar. The Dutchman came off the bench after 64 minutes and on 80 minutes made an impact, taking on a pass from Omar El Kaddouri and finally beating Abad at the second attempt to make it 1-0. Then, eight minutes later Biseswar sent over a free-kick which Crespo headed home to double the advantage and seal a vital win.
PAOK claimed yet another three-point haul and ended the first half of the Super League season on top of the standings.
Xanthi (Giorgos Koltsis): Abad, Sosa, Lisgaras, Karasalidis, Camara, De Lucas (84’ Barientos), Durickovic, Terki (78’ Eduardo), Sturgeon, Rennella (84’ De Amorim), Kovacevic.