Razvan Lucescu’s inf-form PAOK side did it. With a great performance in Frankfurt, the Double-headed Eagle defeated Eintracht 2-1 away from home and locked up top spot in the group after Matchday 5.
Yes, Eintracht may have been the team with the most possession and attacking intent, but they did not really threaten the visitors as much as they would have liked. The Germans were lively – they had no other choice after all – and started the match intent on pressing PAOK high up the pitch. However, the visitors coped well and Kotarski was solid whenever he was needed, such as in the 32nd minute when he blocked Marmus’ shot.
PAOK stood tall and firm, while also looking for chinks in the opposition’s gameplan and also looked threatening on at least two occasions in the first half. Koulierakis hit the crossbar in a phase that was later flagged for offside, and then there was Murg’s shot in the 29th minute, which Trapp saved briliantly.
With self-confidence and dynamism, the Double-headed Eagle came out of the dressing rooms in the second half looking brighter, and in the 50th minute they missed an important opportunity to open the scoring with a free-kick from Murg . Five minutes later, of course, PAOK did find a way to send the ball into the net with Kedziora’s close-range effort that followed A. Živković’s cross which caused confusion among the German defense. The hosts reacted immediately and in the 58th minute, Marmus equalized for Eintracht with a header. The match then had a good rhythm with both sides looking to attack and win the game.
It was in the 66th minute when Lucescu brought on Konstantelias and Brandon in place of Murg and Samatta, and PAOK’s second goal came from these two combining in the 73rd minute. Brandon threatened initially with his shot, which Trapp saved, but the ball fell kindly to A. Živković to score from close range and put the visitors ahead once more. And with solid game management, including some freshening up with Schwab on for Ozdoev and Ekong for Vieirinha , with Kedziora switching to a full-back role, and Despodov on for Taison, PAOK were able to withstand the pressure from the hosts. There was one worrying moment in the 85th minute when Marmus missed from close range, before the Germans were left with ten players in the 93rd minute. PAOK held firm for the remaining moments to seal an impressive win.
And so PAOK’s win in Germany maintained the team’s unbeaten streak, moving them also onto 13 points and a place in the Conference League’s Round of 16. With enviable composure, mature match management, stamina and quality, the Double-headed Eagle celebrated a great night in Frankfurt…
Eintracht: Trapp, Patso, Smolcic, Tuta (Buta 74′), Nkunku, Ebibe (Ferri 86′), Larsson, Skiri (Jakic 54′), Gotze (Aaransson 75′), Tsaiby, Marmus.