ISTANBUL — Thanks to an impressive display, the Legend saw off Fenerbahce by 3-0 in Constantinople and doubled their wins in the UEFA Europa League’s Group D, taking thus a good hold of the table’s top spot. Olympiacos side made its intentions quite clear since early in the match; Tiquinho headed the opener in 6′ after being set up by Masouras. The Greek star emphatically sealed this Olympiacos triumph with a brace. First, he made it 0-2 in 62’ and netted the matchball in 68’ (0-3).
Olympiacos (Pedro Martins): Vaclik, Ou. Ba (46’ Lala), Cisse, Papastathopoulos, Reabciuk, Bouchalakis, M. Camara (89’ Vrousai), A. Camara, Onyekuru (63’ Kunde), Masouras (89’ Valbuena), Tiquinho (86’ El Arabi).
Pedro Martins presser after the end of the Istanbul match. On the win: “Indeed, this was the harder’s match so far. We expected to win but we did not know how nig this would be and how it would be achieved. Things seem easier than they are. The encounter weas difficult. Pereira coaches a very well-trained squad. Had Fener converted their chances, the score would have been much different. Had we failed to score, the match would have been different. Fener put pressure on all our lines. We think however this has been a fair win for us and a beautiful evening for the club”
On his line-up selections: “We decided to feature this line-up after meticulously studying our opponent. Fener had many attack-minded players on the pitch and they were set to put pressure on us. We wanted to have Ba in to contain them and put up with their pressing strikers, especially in such a hot atmosphere. We have done our homework on our opponent and we knew we needed a player with Ba’s qualities at that space. Using him there might strike some as odd, given that we do have other right backs in the squad. However, this had to do with our opponent’s characteristics”.
On Masouras and Tiquinho and the “sweet pain” of picking the ones to be capped: “It is quite pleasant for a coach to suffer such “pains”. It is not just these 2 players; there is also Mathieu, El Arabi. All players will get their chances and be used. I am happy with the roster we got and we believe that the team shall improve ever more. Tiquinho is now at a better shape, but I am happy with the overall improvement of the team”.
PAOK fail to kill off Slovan
Slovan s players celebrate their sides first goal against PAOK during the Europa Conference League, group F soccer match, between PAOK and Slovan Bratislava at Toumba stadium in the northern city of Thessaloniki, Greece, on Thursday, Sept 30, 2021.(AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)
Everything seemed to be going to plan in the beginning. An early goal, intensity from the first whistle, passion, and concentration. A momentary lapse of concentration, however, plus a lack of energy in the second half due to what has been a demanding schedule contrived to prevent PAOK from collecting three points as they were held to a 1-1 draw with Slovan Bratislava.
It was common knowledge that a victory would be significant. That is why PAOK hatched a plan to try and get it. At the same time, however, everyone knew that there are no easy European games, and this unwritten law was confirmed once again.
PAOK were the superior team throughout the game. The home side were in control of the possession, while they also took plenty of risks. However, up front, the hosts could only muster one goal. In fact, the goal came from the team’s first opportunity, and for the rest of the match PAOK unfoertunately could not find that same cutting edge.
Razvan Lucescu was unable to make an extended rotation of his squad due to many absentees. Mitrita , Akpom and Esiti starting were the only changes in relation to Sunday’s game against AEK, coming in to replace Biseswar, Swiderski and Kurtic .
PAOK started the match in ideal fashion, going ahead in the ninth minute. Taylor provided the assist with a precise cross from the right, and Akpom applied the finish with a downward header into the bottom left corner of the opposition goalkeeper’s goal to make it 1-0.
The visitors’ response, however, was swift as they pulled level in the 14th minute. Henty fired in a shot from a central position in the penalty area which Paschalakis saved brilliantly. However, Green was there to drill home rebound to make it 1-1.
PAOK then went straight down the other end to try and get back in front, but after doing the hard work by working himself a sight of goal, Schwab somehow skied his shot from 12 yards out over the crossbar. A goal then may have killed the game off, however it was not to be.
Akpom then had another good but misplaced goal attempt in the 32nd minute, while at the other end Paschalakis produced a fine save to deny Drazic.
PAOK started the second half strongly and threatened to score within two minutes, but again they failedto convert a good chance, this time Sidcley was the man who failed to find the back of the net.
Slovan was limited to playing a passive role, focusing on defence and trying to catch PAOK on the counter attack. Their interest in attacking seemed to dwindle as the game wore on, and they became more interested in time wasting techniques. PAOK for their part continued to control the possession but lacked a clear head when it came to the final ball, with Mitrita, Vieirinha and Konstantelias wasting the best openings. At the other end, Paschalakis had to make another great save in the 84th minute to thwart Mraz’s shot.
The final whistle of the match saw the teams ending up sharing the points with the Double-headed Eagle maintaining a three-point lead over Slovan, but now two points behind group leaders Copenhagen, who prevailed 3-1 against Lincoln in Denmark.
PAOK (Razvan Lutsescu): Paschalakis, Taylor, Michailidis, Mihaj, Sidcley (68′ Vieirinha), Schwab (68′ Kurtic), Esiti, Augusto (58′ Biseswar), A. Zivkovic (74′ Konstantelias), Akpom (74′ Swiderski)
Slovan Bratislava (Vladimir Weiss): Chovan, Pauschek, Bozikov, Kashia, Medvedev (83′ Abena), Green (82′ Chavritz) Kankava, De Kamps (33′ Agbo), Drazic (70′ Zmrhal), Henty, Da Silva (70′ Mraz).