Inglorious finale to an incredible season
A marathon season finally came to an end on Saturday but there were unfortunately no smiles for PAOK. Panathinaikos won 1-0 thanks to a controlversial penalty in the Greek Cup final as the Double-headed Eagle missed several incredible opportunities to turn the match around.
The match kicked off half an hour late due to the police using tear gas to disperse crowd trouble, but there were also a lot of of emotions and drama on the night. Panathinaikos entered the pitch with teh aim of letting PAOK have the ball and to press high. Razvan Lucescu’s team, for their part, tried to break the opponent’s pressure game and find routes to goal.
In the first half hour of the match there were not real scoring chances, as the match was littered with mistakes and fouls which made the game a stop-start affair.
The phase that was to decide the outcome of the game came in the 32nd minute. Gacinovic stooped down to try and a header in the penalty area, falling at the feet of Vieirinha. Spanish referee Laoz waved play on, but then a VAR review saw the Spaniard go and check the phase of play on the pitchside monitor. After examining the footage for around five minutes, he decided to award a penalty, and Aitor beat Paschalakis from the spot.
The game was stopped again, with both teams going to the dressing rooms for half an hour. When they returned, PAOK again started strongly and missed a golden chance to level matters through Akpom, but he headed straight at Brignoli on the stroke of half-time.
In the second half, Panathinaikos stepped back even more, PAOK took the game by the scruff of it neck, and on 58 minutes missed another great opportunity through Biseswar who did everything right to get into a shooting position but unrotuantely side-footed his placed effort wide of the post.
In the 79th minute, PAOK then had another great chance, with Schwab rising to head a cross goalwards from close range, but although the effort beat Brignoli, it was cleared off the line by a Panathinaikos defender.
Panathinaikos played a striclty defensive game from that moment on and sought to run down the clock. PAOK, for their part, continued to try and give everything until the final whistle and missed three more good opportunities.
Firstly, Mitrita failed to hit the target with a shot from outside the penalty area, a minute later Schwab sent a header wide, before the final chance came in the second minute of added time. A combination of Brignoli and his defenders blocked a close-range effort from Colak and Schwab then saw his follow-up saved by Brignoli.
Panathinaikos (Ivan Jovanovic): Brignioli, Kotsiras, Velez, Schenkefeld, Juankar, Villafanez, (68′ Kourbelis), Perez, Palacios (93′ Sarlia), Gacinovic (76′ Alexandropoulos), Aitor, Ioannidis (75′ Carlitos).
PAOK (Razvan Lutsescu): Paschalakis, Lyratzis, Ingason, Crespo, Vieirinha (46′ Sidcley), Augusto (52′ Schwab), Kurtic, A. Zivkovic, Soares (46 ‘El Kaddouri), Biseswar (62′ Mitrita), Akpom (67’ Colak).