Panathinaikos and AEK repeated their wins over Larissa and PAOK respectively last Wednesday on match day four of the Super League playoffs and will fight it out for Greece’s second spot in the Champions League qualifiers.
AEK has all but ended PAOK’s hopes of winning the mini-group after the Macedonian side yet again failed to achieve a result in Athens.
AEK had defeated PAOK 0-1 at Toumba just days earlier taking a huge advantage in the playoffs.
Rafik Djebbour opened the scoring at OAKA in just the 9th minute as it appeared a comfortable evening would eventuate for AEK.
PAOK got back on level terms through a lovely strike by Vladan Ivic’s in the 35th minute of the match.
The goal, amazingly, was PAOK’s first against AEK or Panathinaikos in Athens in the 2008/09 season, in four games.
But it took AEK barely minutes to regain the lead, thanks to Ismael Blanco.
He latched on to a deflected challenge by Pantellis Kafes who swooped on a slow PAOK defence to conjour AEK’s lead once more.
Blanco, made absolutely no mistake with his clinical finish.
PAOK were reduced to 10 men due to the double yellow card on French midfielder Olivier Sorlin, a decision which appeared somewhat harsh judging by the replay.
The second half was all one-way traffic as AEK as AEK looked to kill off the game and with it, PAOK’s Champions League hopes.
AEK scored its third goal after a double error by PAOK keeper Costas Chalkias who sent the ball into his own net from a Nacho Scocco effort.
After failing to catch a relatively innocuous attempt at goal, he deflected the ball into the goal while lying on his back after the ricochet came off the upright.
AEK will face Larissa in a must-win match on Monday morning (Melbourne time) away at Alcazaar.
The home side is technically playing for nothing, having lost all four of their playoff matches thus far.
But AEK has been decimated by injuries with Kafes and defender Geraldo Alves joining Sotiris Kyrgiakos, Juanfran, Pangiotis Lagos, and goal keeper Jurgen Macho. Nikos Georgeos and Perparim Hetemaj are both back from suspension after both were shown the red card against PAOK at Toumba last weekend.
Panathinaikos got the better of Larissa once again winning 1-0 at the Alcazar Stadium thanks to a 67th-minute strike by South African international Bryce Moon.
Panathinaikos faced a strong challenge by a Larissa side that had little to play for.
The greens failed to translate three major chances into goals, but as Larissa was also unable to find the target, Moon’s goal eventually made all the difference.
Panathinaikos will face PAOK at OAKA on Monday morning.