On this day: Guerino hanging on the railings and the title!
On May 2 1976 Neto Guerino rubber-stamped a 1-0 victory over AEK in the 89th minute at the Toumba, sending over 40,000 fans packed into the ground into seventh heaven as PAOK moved closer to its first-ever league title.
That Sunday PAOK was preparing to take the final step to becoming the champions, and the desire of the supporters to witness that very moment saw the 45,000 tickets for the game sold out from the preceding Wednesday morning.
The club’s board of directors had to print another 2.000 tickets without numbered positions, which disappeared in the blink of an eye on Thursday morning. Out of the total number of tickets, AEK were given 7,500, and the Athenian club asked for another 800 to cover their needs. The final total recorded was 45,010 tickets and 3,943,000 drachmas in revenue, setting a new national record for all teams, even though it was certain that several more fans were crowded into the stadium that afternoon when PAOK sealed its first ever league title.
The match with AEK, who were two points behind, would essentially decide the destination of the championship trophy, since the Kitrinomavri were the only side capable of catching PAOK. Olympiacos were nine points behind, while Panathinaikos were 11 points adrift. Such gaps with only four games left and a different scoring system whereby teams were awarded two points for the win, and one point for a draw, meant that those teams were out of the running.
On the eve of the match, Neto Guerino had stated: «I am 100% sure that on Sunday we will celebrate the victory against AEK and the conquest of the championship.»
It seemed that his promise was not going to hold true, but then in the penultimate minute of the match, the Brazilian striker made sure to confirm his prediction with one of PAOK’s most historic goals in the club’s history.
The intensity of the match, the pressure of sealing the two points, and the general anxiety had contributed to the match remaining at 0-0 until the 89th minute in a match which saw PAOK miss a penalty as well as several chances, with AEK also going close on a number of ocassions.
In the 18th minute, AEK goalkeeper Sidiropoulos guessed correctly and kept out Stavros Sarafis’s spot-kick. The penalty had been awarded after Ravousis, who accepted his punishment without the slightest protest, had pushed Guerino who was shaping up to shoot after George Koudas had won possession and released Christos Terzanidis who had crossed the ball into the box.
In the 89th minute, AEK’s Papaioannou fouled Koulis Apostolidis on the edge of the penalty area. Koudas took the set-piece, sending the ball goalwards. Nikolaou trited to head the ball back to his goalkeeper, but Guerino showed great anticipation and leaped to divert the ball into the net. He headed straight to the railings to celebrate wildly with the PAOK fans the goal that gave the club it’s first-ever league title.
The Dikefalos tou Vorra was now four points clear of AEK and essentially champions, since PAOK needed only one victory in its three remaining matches, while AEK needed three victories.
At the end of the match, the title festivities began, with 3,000 PAOK fans outside of the stadium and continuing into the night at the White Tower where 5,000 fans danced and sang non-stop.
Fifty years after being founded, then, PAOK won the Greek championship and the quote of the day, after the victory over AEK, was initially provided by club president George Pantelakis, who said: «Half a century of honest work was rewarded today», while afterwards, Michalis Bellis, the assistant coach to Gyula Lóránt, added: «PAOK, in the honorable way it has worked for purity in sports ever since it was founded, is a worthy champion».
Read a detailed tribute about the conquest of the 1976 championship, the key protagonists of the team, and see a fantastic photographic tribute here.