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09/07/2020 - 00:34

Second half was not enough for OFI (video)

AEK Athens - OFI Crete 2-0

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AEK moved four points clear of PAOK in second place in the Super League playoffs standings on Wednesday after comfortably beating OFI Crete 2-0 at the Olympic Stadium in Athens.

Giorgos Simos’ Cretan side out up a good fight, but in the end AEK had too much quality and claimed three vital points thanks to goals in the first half from Nelson Oliveira and Stratos Svarnas,

Following PAOK’s earlier 0-0 draw with Panathinaikos at the Toumba Stadium in Thessaloniki, Massimo Carrera’s in-form Kitrinomavri have now opened up a significant gap which makes them the firm favorites to claim the second Champions League qualifying spot with just three matches to play.

THE MATCH

AEK came into this match as the firm favorites having picked up some serious momentum over the last few weeks, specifically in their last two matches with key victories in Thessaloniki over PAOK and Aris. Those six points put them back into the driving seat for second place.

OFI, on the other hand, may have come into this match winless in the playoffs, but they have managed to stay close to Aris and still have a shot at fifth place. Simos’ team would have considered it a good night if they could manage to claim a point in Athens before kick-off.

That outcome seemed likely from the early stages of the game as AEK looked a shadow of the team that has shone of late, but then all that changed on 19 minutes when the hosts scored from their first real attack of the game.

The goal came from Oliveira, who raced on to a long ball from Paulinho before side-footing expertly past Oscar Whalley to make it 1-0.

The relief was tangible among the AEK players and dugout, but it did not seem to spur them on to repeat the impressive displays which have seen them climb above PAOK in recent weeks.

Indeed, the hesitation shown by the Kitrnomavri players invited OFI to try their luck and rish a bit more, which they did in the 38th minute only for Manolis Perdikis to head narrowly over the crossbar from a good position when he should have done better.

AEK recovered from that scare in some style, however, going 2-0 up on the stroke of half-time when Marko Livaja sent over a free-kick into the box, and defender Svarnas got the slightest of touches with a header to direct the ball past Whalley and into the back of the net.

That left OFI with a difficult task in the second half, and the Cretans, who had struggled to create clear scoring chances in the first half, were reduced to pot shots from distance with Ricardo Vaz one of several players to try his luck without success.

AEK looked content to sit on their lead but even then, they managed to create the better chances without playing spectacularly well. Paulinho was denied twice by Whalley with efforts on 74 and 77 minutes.

The home side then missed a double chance to score with nine minutes left when Daniele Verde was thwarted by Whalley in a one-on-one situation, and substitute Anel Sabanadzovic’s effort from outside the penalty area was off target.

And that was the last goalmouth action as AEK made another important step towards securing second place.

STARTING LINEUPS

AEK: 1 BARKAS (GK), 3 LOPES, 4 ECONOMOU, 24 SVARNAS, 27 PAULINHO, 6 KRSTICIC, 8 SIMOES, 20 MANDALOS, 10 LIVAJA, 18 OLIVEIRA, 14 ALBANIS

OFI: 1 WHALLEY (GK), 44 BOLAKIS, 54 PERDIKIS, 18 GIANNOULIS, 13 VAFEAS, 47 BRAUN, 10 NABI, 4 SAKOR, 12 ZOAO, 26 STAIKOS, 9 MANOS

credits: www.agonasport.com

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