PAOK FC Thessaloniki beat AEK FC Athens with 2-0 in an eventful Greek Cup final that had two goals, one missed penalty, three red cards, plenty of passion and, thankfully no major problems on the pitch. The final was, however, overshadowed by violence outside the Olympic Stadium of Athens.
PAOK got what it deserved through two second-half goals in a fairly one-sided final as the Thessaloniki team was dominant for most of the game, even when it opted to go behind the ball to defend its lead.
In front of some 42,000 fans, with the two sets of supporters separated by a sea of empty seats as they were seated at the opposite ends of the stands, AEK did not meet its support’s expectations, while PAOK appeared all fired up from the outset.
After Diego Biseswar missed a glorious chance for PAOK on the 16th minute, he earned a penalty that the Super League top scorer Aleksandar Prijovic took, but AEK keeper Vassilis Barkas dived to his left to palm the ball away.
With AEK’s most exciting player Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and influential Rodrigo Gallo on the bench, it was only left to Petros Mantalos to create in AEK’s midfield, but he got tired rather quickly, given that he lacked match fitness.
PAOK continued in the same vein after the interval and opened the score 20 minutes into the second half thanks to a spectacular freekick by Adelino Vieirinha, that had the black-and-white half of the stands erupt like a volcano.
Gallo and Christodoulopoulos came on, they improved AEK’s game as PAOK wanted to defend its goal, but the Thessaloniki team remained a threat on the break.
Eleven minutes from full-time Mauricio received a straight red for a two-footed tackle from behind, but in the ensuing tussle between the two sets of players Ognjen Vranjes got his second yellow card and the balance was quickly restored.
AEK’s best chance came on the 89th, but Sergio Araujo wasted it sending the ball inches wide off the left post of Alexandros Paschalakis.
Then in injury time, in the last of PAOK’s counter attacks, Prijovic broke the offside trap dashing from the left and crossed the ball to the path of Dimitris Pelkas who added his name on the scoresheet striking from close range.
In the dying seconds Fernando Varela also got sent off, but it did not matter anymore.