Football can be cruel
The unwritten laws of football state that if you do not manage to kill off a game that you dominate, then it’s always possible for the opposition to find a goal out of nothing to steal the victory. And that is exactly the experience PAOK suffered in their 2021-22 Super League Interwetten premiere at the Toumba stadium, with PAS Giannina pinching the three-points with a goal from Pedro Conde.
That outcome seemed unlikely for most of the game, with everything seemingly going according to plan for PAOK. The home side controlled possession of the ball for long spells, showed the necessary patience and actually tormented the visitors at times, locking them in their half of the pitch. The hosts needed to find a way to break through an 11-man defence, or what is now commonly known as, a classic night at the Toumba.
Towards the end of the match, however, PAOK lost their collective head, and patience evaporated. Individual mistakes crept in, and the result was a defeat in the first match of the new domestic league season.
The beginning of the game saw PAOK in the driving seat. The hosts had all the possession and threatened as early as the fourth minute with a shot by Swiderski, who failed to find the target. PAOK then had another great opportunity through Schwab with a header, but Saliakas cleared it off the live. The home side were limited to some pot shots from outside the penalty area for the rest of the first half, with Douglas having two good attempts, and Vieirinha with another from a good position.
The visitors, on the other hand, were firmly focused on their defensive duties and looking to catch PAOK on the counter-attack. The only chance they fashioned in hte first 45 minutes was in added time when Zivkovic blocked Schneider’s shot from a good position.
In the second half the game continued in the same vein until the 75th minute. Murg, Swiderski and Kagawa missed great opportunities, while Razvan Lucescu threw on all the offensive weapons at his disposal, but attacking moves kept breaking down in the final moment.
On the other hand, PAS saw the game pan out exactly as it wanted, and at 0-0 late in the game they were looking for a moment to try and snatch something, perhaps even a winning goal. And they managed to do just that in the 86th minute.
A series of poor judgements from the Double-headed Eagle’s defensive line allowed Conde to steal in and fire into an empty net to secure the three-points for his team.
The final whistle saw the PAOK camp in the doldrums, but there is no time to lose and dwell on the result, as this was just the first of a series of many consecutive upcoming games in both Greece and Europe that are coming thick and fast.
The team lineups:
PAS Giannina (Iraklis Metaxas): Lodygin, Saliakas, Erramuspe, Kargas, Peersman, Karachalios, Dominguez, Gardawski, Schneider (89′ Lolis), Perea (79′ Moreira), Conde (90′ Milinceanu).