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15/06/2020 - 08:45

In search of motivation (video)

OFI Crete - AEK Athens 0-2

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AEK broke their Super League Play Offs duck at the second attempt on Sunday with a 2-0 away win over OFI in Heraklion, a result which saw them leapfrog PAOK and move two points clear of the Thessaloniki club in second.

Massimo Carrera’s Kitrinomavri, who drew 1-1 with Panathinaikos last time out, claimed all three points in this Matchday 2 encounter at the Theodoros Vardinogiannis Stadium thanks to goals from Marko Livaja and Daniele Verde.

The result means that AEK edged closer to second-placed PAOK - following the Dikefalos you Vorra’s 0-0 draw at Panathinaikos 24 hours earlier - and they are now in the driving seat for a Champions League spot that second place provides.

THE MATCH

Sunday’s early kick-off saw OFI welcome AEK with a point to prove having lost 3-1 at Aris on Matchday 1 after taking the lead. That result was of huge importance as Aris took the advantage in the battle for the last European place.

Meanwhile, AEK arrived in Crete on the back of a batting display in a 1-1 draw which saw them claim a point in the derby against Panathinaikos. The Kitrinomavri knew that a victory in Crete would be a big boost, especially since PAOK failed to defeat Panathinaikos on Saturday.

AEK began with much more urgency and purpose than they had done in their last outing and there were early half-chances for Nelson Oliveira and Christos Almpanis, both of which were squandered.

OFI tried to respond in the 12th minute with a forward surge, but after good work from Juan Neira and Dimitris Manos, the former saw his effort thwarted by AEK goalkeeper Vasilis Barkas.

Carrera’s men did not lose heart though and kept plugging away, pinning OFI back and almost took the lead after 21 minutes when the excellent Petros Mantalos crossed for Oliveira, but the Portuguese forward was denied by a superb save from Oscar Whalley.

The opening goal finally came after 42 minutes when Helder Lopes found space down the left to cross perfectly for Livaja, who headed home to score for the second successive match since the league restart.

OFI attempted to grab a goal back just before half-time, but Portuguese forward Vitor Figueiredo saw his effort hit the bar before bouncing out of play and the chance was lost.

AEK started the second half with the same aggressive tempo and after OFI ‘keeper Whalley kep out two efforts from Mantalos and defender Dymitro Chygrynskyy headed wide, the visitors finally got that crucial second.

It came in the 65th minute from Verde, who had just come on five minutes earlier to replace Almpanis. The Italian forward wasted no time in making an impact, latching on to a pass from Polish midfielder Szymanski before firing home a brilliant diagonal shot.

That goal knocked the stuffing out of OFI, and it was always going to be difficult for the crestfallen Cretans to come back from that point. And so it proved with AEK holding firm with consummate ease for a vital victory.

STARTING LINEUPS

OFI: 1 Whalley (Gk), 4 Sakor, 5 Koutroubis, 8 Neira, 9 Manos, 11 Semedo, 16 Marinakis, 18 Giannoulis, 20 Figueiredo, 29 Mellado, 34 Korovesis

AEK: 1 Barkas (Gk), 2 Bakakis, 3 Lopes, 19 Chygrynskyy, 21 Vranjes, 5 Szymanski, 6 Krsticic, 14 Albanis, 20 Mantalos, 10 Livaja, 18 Oliveira

credits: www.agonasport.com

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