PAOK get what they need
From the kick-off, Abel Ferreira’s team were playing for two results at OAKA. And in the end, the Dikefalos tou Vorra got the second choice – a draw. This preserved the club’s three-point lead in second place, and now all PAOK need to do is take one point from the final match of the season Aris at the Toumba stadium to secure second place mathematically, and a ticket to the UEFA Champions League qualifiers.
For the second game in a row, the Dikefalos tou Vorra produced a solid performance. The team were serious about their approach, decisive and focused for what was 100 minutes of football, managing to leave Athens with a point following the draw against the Enosi. It was a tense game, with a heavy emphasis on tactics, as well as tough tackling and marking from both sides. And even if the scores remained goalless, PAOK was clearly the team on top.
Abel Ferreira’s set his team up in similar fashion to the previous game, with just one change in personnel in Anderson Esiti, who took the place of the suspended Omar El Kaddouri.
PAOK started confidently and kept the ball, remaining in control throughout the first half, with the exception of the 14th minute when Alexandros Paschalakis saved a shot from Mandalos. This was the only significant opportunity of the hosts up to half-time. Diego Biseswar had a good shot on goal just before the half-hour, while Chuba Akpom found the net in the 31st minute, only to see the ‘goal’ ruled out for a foul.
In the second half, PAOK again started strongly and created several opportunities with Mauricio, Tziolis and Rodrigo all going close. After that, AEK attempted to push higher up the pitch, and Paschalakis was called into action to save a shot from Daniele Verde. In the final quarter of the game, the pace and tempo of the game picked up, with PAOK missing arguably the game’s best chance in the 86th minute when Miroslav Stoch hit the crossbar with a shot.
Neither team managed to pose a serious threat thereafter as the clock ticked down in the final stages, and PAOK held firm to preserve the club’s three-point lead, meaning that it will go down to the final round of fixtures to decide who will finish second.
AEK (Massimo Carrera): Barkas, Svarnas, Chygrynskiy (48′ Verde), Economou, Lopes, Paulinho, Simoes (76′ Araujo), Krsticic , Mandalos, Livaja, Oliveira