Step by step…
A goal at the end of the first half, and two at the start of the second saw PAOK defeat Panathinaikos 3-0 in impressive fashion at “Leoforos”, reducing the gap from the top to six points, and the Double-headed Eagle now look to prepare to seal a ticket for the Greek Cup semi-finals next week.
It may be a project that is still in its infancy, but game by game the team is improving and delivering performances of high quality football. Razvan Lucsescu’s team did just that once more at the «Apostolos Nikolaidis», just a little more than 24 hours after the cup victory over the same opposition at the Toumba, they beat Panathinaikos again, this time with a 3-0 scoreline.
The hosts seemed to be inspired by the packed stadium and entered the match strongly, with Palacios going close in the fourth minute and Kotarski having the answer to a shot by Cerin in the 9th minute.
PAOK somehow managed to balance the play, took possession of the ball and had four good moments up until the 24th minute, with Brignoli blocking attempts by A.Zivkovic, Konstantelias and Oliveira, while PAOK’s Portuguese forward also saw the ball deflect off Schenkenfeld’s hand and then onto the post two minutes later.
Jovanovic’s team tried to respond, but the black and white defense was in top form and did not allow the home side space. Up the other end of the pitch, PAOK missed another important opportunity in the 34th minute with Oliveira seeing a header from Rafa Soares’ cross blocked by Brignoli.
In the 44th minute came one of the most important moments of the match. Konstantelias wriggled himself clear and had a sight of goal. His effort was blocked by Brignoli, but the ball then ricocheted off Perez and ended up in the back of the net, making it 1-0 to PAOK going into the half-time interval.
PAOK began the second half with a glint in their collective eyes, and within seven minutes scored two goals to wrap up the victory.
In the first phase of the replay, the visitors kept the ball well, before Oliveira found Konstantelias with a clever heel, with the latter responding with an even better first-time pass for A.Zivkovic, who had the simple task of side-footing the ball past a helpless Brignoli with a cool finish.
In the 52nd minute, Oliveira fought for an apparently lost cause, but the Panathinaikos defenders failed to clear the ball properly and it landed at the feet of Konstantelias , who fired home a snapshot on the move to complete the scoring in stylish fashion for his first PAOK goal.
In the 54th minute, Oliveira also hit the post with a header. After that the visitors dropped back and managed the rest of the game perfectly to come away with an important victory that brought them to within 6 point from top spot.
Now everyone’s attention turns to the third game in a row against Panathinaikos, with PAOK aiming to build on the 2-0 lead achieved at the Toumba in the first leg and get a ticket to the semi-finals of the Greek Cup.
Panathinaikos: Brinioli, Kotsiras (57′ Vaiannidis), Senkefeld, Poungouras, Huancar (57′ Pouhats), Cerin, Pereth (60′ Tsokai), Bernard (61′ Sporar), Palasios, Ioannidis (82′ Sanchez), Verbics.