Under-17s lose final, but win hearts [with pictures]
Between tears and teenage devastation on the one hand and absolute joy on the other, the line is so indiscernible… Without a lot of words, what we have to record is that we enjoyed the most exciting final we have seen in many years . PAOK were defeated 5-4 by Olympiacos in extra time (2-2 at full-time). Our yoiungsters demonstrated quality, passion, will, and perseverance. Dignity and virtues, which will follow them for life. Yes they lost a final, but they won everyone’s respect.
As is almost always the case in youth football finals, the anxiety and nervousness was palpable in the first 45 minutes. There was, however, a dynamism to the game – perhaps inevitable, given the torrential rain. There were mistakes made by both teams, while opportunities in front of goal were few and far between. And while everything showed that the teams would go into the dressing rooms at 0-0, Chatsidis released Dunga, who crossed from the left for Kesidis, who beat Kouraklis to score the opener.
The second half began as it ended, with PAOK on the front foot. In the 51st minute, Kesidis sent over a corner and Kalaitsidis made it 2-0 to the Double-headed Eagle with a header. Olympiacos reacted well and reduced the deficit in the 61st minute via Kostoulas. The match was then levelled up in the 80th minute with Ligada’s free kick making it 2-2. That goal sent the match into extra time.
The game continued to be exciting, and in the first quarter of extra time the match developed into something of a shoot-out as both teams attacked with intent. In the first minute of extra time, Olympiacos took the lead for the first time in the game thanks to Ligadas, however PAOK responded in the 103rd minute with Tsobanis’ header from Polykratis’ assist. The youngsters, as it turned out, had even more to give. In the first minute of the second half of extra time Kostoulas made it 4-3 and in the 110th minute Liatsikouras then made it 5-3 to Olympiacos. PAOK pulled a goal back through Tsobanis to make it 5-4 in the 118th minute, but the black and whites could not find another goal to level the match and take it to penalties. Nevertheless, we all got to enjoy one of the most enthralling games of youth football we have seen in the final phase of the championship. Until next time…
PAOK: Beleris, Koupenos (80′ Avrampos), Polykratis, Panikidis, Kosidis (113′ Tsitsilas), Scznaucner, Kesidis (71′ Tsobanis), Kalaitsidis, Chatsidis (113′ Vryzas), Papageorgiou (91′ Sapanis ), Dunga (Mythos 88′)
Olympiacos: Kouraklis, Soulianakou, Alafakis, Dama, Panagakos (46′ Pleionis), Mouzakitis (9′ Philis), Toufakis (65′ Ligadas), Liatsikouras (111′ Plis), Kostoulas, Darviras (52′ Soufkas) , Pneumonidis (111′ Karkatsalis).