The most beautiful title, until the next one!
For themselves, their dreams and their incredible work ethic. For their families and for their coaches. For the 453 players who participated in this championship. For all the stress and uncertainty during those seemingly endless weeks away from the game because of the pandemic. And for everything they work so hard to achieve…
This was a final that was worth every minute. These players deserve every ounce of the unbridled joy they expressed, for winning the championship against a very worthy opponent. Apostolos Papavasiliou and Dimitris Taxidis’s Under-17 side is the champion of Greece in what has been an unprecedented season. PAOK is now champions in Under-17, and Under-19. The Dikefalos tou Vorra beat Olympiacos 6-5 on penalties, after an enthralling match ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw.
We would even dare say that the Under-17 final between PAOK and Olympiacos is the best game we have witnessed in the youth age groups. From any point of view. For the six goals, and the 16 penalties, and for the many chances created, for the passion, for the perfect and technical combination football that we saw, but mainly for the ethos of all the players.
Six goals and a plethora of opportunities
PAOK was slow to find their rhythm. After all, given that Olympiacos managed to go in front in the eighth minute through Stamoulis’ goal, it took some time for the game to become balanced. Olympiacos were the more threatening side and in fact almost doubled their lead in the 14th minute. Balance came in added time at the end of the first half when Konstantelias found Koutsias with an impressive assist and the latter finished perfectly.
In the second half, the pace of the game became explosive. The Erythrolefki took the lead again through Stamoulis in the 47th minute, but Kedikoglou responded immediately for PAOK after 50 minutes, heading in at the back post from Konstantelia’s corner to make it 2-2. Then Koutsias slotted home a penalty in the 72nd minute which had been won by Smyrlis. The Dikefalos you Vorra, however, could not hold on and Olympiacos sent the game into extra time thanks to a free-kick from Kasemi with 15 minutes left.
Passion until the final whistle
It’s worth noting that in added time there were four clear scoring chances missed, and even in extra time the players of both teams showed the same endurance, and the same passion. The score did not change, however, and the title was to be decided on penalties. It needed 16 penalties to decide a winner, and PAOK was crowned champions. For PAOK, those called upon to score from the spot were Tasiouras, Spyrakos, KOutsias, Koulierakis, Manolioudis, Tsikos, Sinanai, and Babouras, while Monastirlis saved one spot-kick. The final score was 6-5 on penalties, with a 3-3 score after extra time.
PAOK lineup: Monastirlis, Kitsakis (99’ Koulierakis), Manolioudis, Sinanai, Tasiouras, Tsikos, Kontentakis (105’ Rumanchev), Konstantelias (86΄Spyrakos), Kedikoglou (61΄Koulouris), Koutsias, Smyrlis (80’ Babouras)
Olympiacos lineup: Grammatikakis, Liofagos, Doumas, Katsogiannis, Freris, Pastras (64’ Kasemi), Liatsos (105’ Spyridakis), Karakoutis (64’ Papadakos), Kitsos (84’ Smyrlis), Stamoulis (102’ Poimenidis)