05/07/2020 - 00:37

Iron OFI could have won (video)

OFI Crete - PAOK FC 2-2



PAOK suffered a further setback in the race for second place in the Super League Play Offs on Saturday after Abel Ferreira’s struggling side were held to a 2-2 draw by OFI Crete in a match that saw both teams reduced to 10 players in Heraklion.

Diego Biseswar opened the scoring for PAOK early in the game after just five minutes to give the Thessaloniki team a huge boost, but OFI battled back and deservedly leveled matters through Juan Neira in the 17th minute.

Then OFI, who are winless in the Play Offs, went in front just before half-time through Vitor Figueiredo. The home side were reduced to 10 men for the final half-hour after defender Giorgos Koutroubis was sent-off for picking up two yellow cards.

That gave PAOK the upper hand and an equalizer duly came 14 minutes from time when substitute Giannis Michailidis sent a great free-kick past Oscar Whalley in the OFI goal to make it 2-2. Instead of going on to win the game, however, PAOK then had Anderson Esiti sent off for picking up two yellow cards with nine minutes left.

Despite late chances for both teams, there were no further goals and second-placed PAOK had to settled to a point, which puts them on 60 points - one point ahead of AEK, who play on Sunday against Aris in Thessaloniki.


The match in Crete was billed as PAOK’s bid to save their season and put themselves back in the driving seat for second place, with little room for error from the Thessaloniki side.

Last season’s champions came into the match level on 59 points with AEK, but on the back of a torrid run, having been knocked out of the Greek Cup last week and most recently losing a key midweek match versus AEK, also with six key players out injured.

Their opponents OFI, were winless thus far in the postseason, however there were some positives to be drawn from a draw last week to Panathinaikos and a narrow defeat away to Olympiacos on Wednesday in which they gave the champions a scare.

It was imperative for PAOK to make a strong start, and they did just that, scoring from their first real chance of the game - a feat they have not been able to do often enough this season.

Greece international winger Dimitris Limnios made inroads down the left in behind the OFI defenders with his pace, and he crossed the ball which Biseswar met, the Dutchman getting ahead of OFI defender Giorgos Koutroubis to side-foot the ball home.

The relief on the part of the PAOK players was tangible, but instead of serving to settle the visitors, it actually galvanized the home side into action, and they began to apply pressure to the PAOK goal.

First Figueiredo went close in the 13th minute when his shot took a deflection off Fernando Varela and went out for a corner. From the resulting corner, which was taken by Ricardo Vaz, Koutroubis had the chance to equalize but his header at the back post was saved well by Aleandros Paschalakis.

Those chances did not provoke a more careful approach from PAOK, and actually served as a sign of what was to come as OFI drew level in the 18th minute. Before that, OFI had actually hit the post with Vaz the unlucky player, but then just a minute later the goal came.

Neira was the man on target, finding time and space to measure a sweet, left-footed shot into the bottom right corner of Paschalakis’ goal, with the PAOK keeper unable to keep it out.

On the half-hour mark PAOK were furious when Koutroubis was only shown a yellow card for a foul on striker Karol Swiderski when it seemed the Polish forward would have had a run on goal. But after a VAR review, the decision was upheld.

And OFI continued to grow in confidence after that, and the Cretans went 2-1 up with two minutes to go to half-time. It was a well-worked team goal, with Koutroubis, Paschalis Staikos, and Christopher Braun all combining to set up Figueiredo, who scored from close range to turn the game on its head.

PAOK tried to get back on level terms before half-time, but Limnios was denied in added time by a great save from Oscar Whalley in the OFI goal.

The visitors had a tough task to try and turn the match around in the second half, but they came close just five minutes into the second half when Miroslav Stoch’s free-kick was headed narrowly wide by Varela.

PAOK were then boosted by the 59th-minute sending off of Koutroubis, who was shown a red card after picking up his second booking of the night for a foul on Mauricio.

The visitors enjoyed a lot more possession after that point, but PAOK lacked inspiration in the final third. That was until the 76th minute, when young ace Michailidis finally got PAOK a breakthrough with a brilliant free-kick which left OFI ‘keeper Whalley a mere spectator.

Esiti, who had only come on at half-time, then clumsily fouled Miguel Mellardo for a second time and was shown another yellow card for his troubles, followed by a red.

That dented PAOK’s chances but still set up a frantic finale in which both sides went at each other in search of a victory. Unfortunately for PAOK, the Thessaloniki side could not find a winning goal.

Mauricio came closest with an acrobatic scissor-kick effort from Ingi Ingasons long ball with four minutes left, but Whalley did enough to block the shot.

While PAOK move one point clear of AEK in second place, they will need city rivals Aris to do them a favor on Sunday and defeat the Kitrinomavri, or at least hold the Athens club to a draw.


OFI: 1 Whalley (Gk), 5 Koutroubis, 8 Neira, 16 Marinakis, 18 Giannoulis, 20 Figueiredo, 21 Vaz, 26 Staikos, 29 Mellado, 34 Korovesis, 47 Braun

PAOK: 31 Paschalakis (Gk), 2 Rodrigo, 4 Ingason, 5 Varela, 23 Giannoulis, 8 Mauricio, 7 El Kaddouri, 18 Limnios, 21 Biseswar, 99 Stoch, 9 Swiderski

credits: www.agonasport.com

Δείτε το Video