Winners on the pitch
PAOK showed heart, decisiveness and determination to produce an exceptional display against Olympiacos at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, coming away from Piraeus with all three points thanks to a goal from Enea Mihaj in the 90th minute.
Coming into this match, Abel Ferreira’s team knew that their backs were against the wall. ΑΕΚ had earlier defeated Panathinaikos and moved into second place. And the opponents were Olympiacos, a team that had not lost in its last 43 league matches. But PAOK, however, as we have said time and again in the past, is made for the difficult challenges.
When PAOK is on the ropes, friends need not be worried, but enemies should tremble. The Dikefalos tou Vorra players were the dominant side for most if not all of the almost 100 minutes that were played against the Erythrolefki. Double-digit goal attempts, the lion’s share of possession, control of the the game’s rhythm and the passing, as well as the strength and upper hand in almost every duel going on all over the pitch.
The Dikefalos started with its foot firmly on the gas as they looked for an early goal, with Olympiacos only managing to create a single chance in the first half through Semedo’s header. In contrast, PAOK missed a clutch of good opportunities through Diego Biseswar, Mauricio and Christos Tziolis, and the teams went in at the half-time break at 0-0.
The pattern of the game did not change in the second half, with PAOK continuing to dominate proceedings, but without being able to find an easy route to Jose Sa’s goal. The chance which decided the winner came in the 90th minute. Rodrigo sent over a brilliant cross, and Mihaj planted a powerful header past Olympiacos’ Spanish goalkeeper to end the Erythrolefki’s unbeaten run.
In the second minute of added time, Aleandros Paschalakis made an impressive save from Ahmed Hassan, while three minutes later Olympiacos had the ball in the net but since a foul and two players being offside proceeded the ‘goal’, the VAR review confirmed that the goal should not stand since Hassan, the goalscorer, was offiside.
With this win, PAOK deprived Olympiacos of the chance of finishing the season undefeated, while the Dikefalos tou Vorra also extended its lead over ΑΕΚ to three points. Now the upcoming clash between the two teams at the ΟΑΚΑ has taken on the meaning of a cup final battle for second place, with Ferreira’s players playing for two results.
Olympiacos (Pedro Martins): Sa, Omar, Cisse, Semedo, Tsimikas, Guilherme (61′ Fortounis), Bouchalakis, Camara, Valbuena (86′ Randjelovic), Masouras (62′ Bruno), El Arabi (77′ Hassan).
PAOK (Abel Ferreira): Paschalakis , Ingason (46′ Mihaj ), Varela , Michailidis, El Kaddouri (79′ Esiti ), Mauricio, Rodrigo , Giannoulis, Biseswar (72′ Stoch), Tziolis (79′ Limnios), Akpom (59′ Swiderski ).