Today’s success story is that we can talk just about football. Something which PAOK has systematically urged from the start of the season. And to go against the practices of degrading anyone or looking for alibis. Just to play football and if the team loses, then at least we have achieved one aim. Just like today.
The team may have been defeated by a lucky goal, and it may not have given one of its best performances, but whatever the club did today it was all about football and nothing else. And based on that platform, nobody can guarantee you success. Olympiacos left the Toumba with a five-point lead at the top, but the season continues and the title will be decided during the Play Offs.
For the majority of the first half, if you told someone watching the game who doesn’t follow Greek football, it would be difficult for them to believe that this was a top-of-the-table derby match. Olympiacos came with the main aim of trying to keep a clean sheet and focused solely on defence, with PAOK having the lion’s share of possession, but unable to create quality opportunities to trouble Jose Sa’s goal.
Only during the last 10 minutes of the first half did the visitors try to attack with any real purpose, and actually they did come close to a goal when the crossbar stopped Youssef El-Arabi’s close-range volley against the run of play.
Olympiacos made a dream start to the second half. A defensive blunder, a hopeful cross and a cruel deflection off Dimitris Giannoulis put the visitors in the lead.
PAOK tried to respond immediately, and they had the ball in the net through Fernando Varela’s effort, but the German chalked the ‘goal’ off as offside right at the start of the set-piece move which lead to it following a VAR review.
The hosts then lay siege to the Olympiacos goal right up until the final whistle, and there were chances for Omar El Kadduri, Swiderski and Vieirinha , as well as a flurry of corners, but the equalizing goal just would not come.
PAOK may have lost three points and dropped further behind in the standings, but nothing is won or lost yet. The Play Offs which following the end of the regular season give Abel Ferreira’s team the chance to rectify their errors, and produce better performances and defend the club’s league and cup titles.
Olympiacos (Pedro Martins): Sa, Omar, Semedo, Ba, Tsimikas, Bouchalakis, Guilherme, Camara, Valbuena (91’ Gaspar), El-Arabi (69’ Hassan), Randjelovic (83’ Masouras).