PAOK earn three points in Volos in regular season finale
For one half, PAOK were brilliant, and for the second, they were solid and serious. The result? Three points and now… the battle of the Play Offs awaits. PAOK ended the 2022-23 Stoiximan Super League regular season with a 1-0 away win at the Panthessaliko Stadium over NFC Volos, and the Double-headed Eagle are ready to fight to the end in the post-season business end of the competition.
PAOK showed two positive faces at the Panthessaliko Stadium on Sunday, both exciting and seriousness in equal measure. The Double-headed Eagle played some impressive and attacking football, while also they did not give their opponents a look in by shutting them down befiore they could even try and muster a threat to their goal – and the result was that the visitors celebrated an important victory in view of the tough games ahead.
The match started unexpectedly for Razvan Lucescu’s team, as Ingi Ingason pulled up with a calf problem after Saturday’s (11.03) training session and he has left out of the team as a precautionarty measure, with Giannis Kargas taking his place in the starting lineup.
From the first seconds, PAOK started with a clear desire to pin the opposition back in their own half and they succeeded impressively. In the sixth minute Douglas produced a dangerous cross after a great team effort, but Narey couldn’t direct the ball into the net.
In the 16th minute, after an excellent free-kick combination, Andrija Živkovic fired in a shot from the edge of the penalty box, but the ball flashed past Kotnik’s post.
Narey and Brandon threatened again soon afterwards, but the ball was blocked by a mass of bodies in the box, while in the 24th minute Giannis Konstantelias was clean through on goal against Kleyman, but the yoiung winger missed the target. Just a minute later the young PAOK ace failed to find the target once more after A.Zivkovic’s cross.
The solution was provided by Brandon . The Spanish forward found the back of the net for the third game in a row, this time perfectly completing a beautiful team effort with a side-footed finish from close-range. Douglas Augusto had started the move with an incredible through pass for Narey, who surged into the left side of the penalty area before turning the ball into the path of Brandon who couldn’t miss to make it 1-0 to the visitors.
Until the half-time break, PAOK had one more great chance with Kargas getting off a difficult shot, but the ball ricocheted out for a corner.
In the second half the tempo of the match dropped significantly. The home team tried to make some inroads towards Kotarski’s goal, but it was to no avail, as the visitors’ defensive play was impeccable.
Lucescu brought on Taison, Oliveira, El Kaddouri and Dantas in order to give his team some freshness and it was relatively successful, with PAOK only threatened in the 68th minute when Ozegovic almost found himself one on one with Kotarski , but Koulierakis got back in time with a last-ditch tackle to block the Volos forward’s effort.
The Double-headed Eagle also had two good chances to extend their lead with Douglas’ shot cannoning off a defender and going behind for a corner, while Oliveira failed to find the target despite having several decent opportunities.
PAOK though did not any further goals to secure the three points, which helped to keep them within seven points of league leaders Panathinaikos, and all that remains now is for the club to learn who their first opponents will be in the Play Offs during Monday’s (13.03) fixture draw.
NFC Volos: Kleyman, Alho, Escoval, Pirinen, Sy, Tsokanis (Kartalis 90′), Luna, Chirinos (Tachatos 81′), Deletic, Pires (Kace 87′), Ozegovic.
PAOK: Kotarski, Sastre, Kargas, Koulierakis, Rafa Soares, Schwab (Dantas 75′), Augusto, Narey (El Kaddouri 75′), A.Zivkovic, Konstantelias (Taison 66′), Brandon (Oliveira 65′).