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The Weekend Neos Kosmos : 10 August 2019
DIGITAL.NEOSKOSMOS.COM THE WEEKEND NEOS KOSMOS | SATURDAY 10 AUGUST 2019 25 SPORT Huge win for Olympiacos against Istanbul Basaksehir The team from Piraeus faced less trouble than expected against Basaksehir and walked away with a crucial 0-1 win thanks to a goal by Masouras Olympiacos have made a great step towards advancing to the play-off rounds of the UEFA Champions League, after an important away win at Fatih Terim Stadium against Istanbul Basaksehir 0-1. The erythrolefki were always in control of the game and didn't allow their goal to come under threat many times, but when it did, goalkeeper Jose Sa was there to put out the flames. Manager Pedro Martins didn't change a single player from the starting 11 that annihilated Victoria Plzen a week ago at Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium and the players rewarded him by holding possession of the ball and keeping their lines close. Meanwhile, the home team seemed unable to find the key that would unlock the visitor's defence. The first real chance for Okan Buruk's side had to come from an unforced error by Jose Sa, who in his attempt to save the ball from a corner dropped it from his hands with Enzo Crivelli pouncing on the opportunity to strike, but it bounced off his teammate Fredrik Gulbrandsen to go out for a goal kick. Not much else occurred until the break, as a result of Olympiacos' tight formation highlighted by the duet of Ruben Semedo and Yassin Meriah at troducing former Atromitos winger Bruno to the game. A decision he would soon come to regret, as the Brazilian almost put the result in jeopardy. Initially he used his hands to block an attempt by Bosnian midfielder Edin Visca, awarding the Turkish side a free kick in an advantageous position. As if that wasn't enough, during injury time he thoughtlessly used his hands again, this time inside the area, to block yet another cross, giving the home side the chance to equalise from the penalty spot. Jose Sa wasn't willing to give away the hard-fought advantage so easily and saved the kick by Visca, allowing the red-and-whites to leave Turkey as the victors. Giorgos Masouras and Kostas Tsimikas celebrate their team’s goal. PHOTO: APE/MPE the heart of defence. In the second half, the visitors realised they could take more away from the game and began to knock on the door of their opponents more often. During one of their 'visits' on the 53rd minute, former French international Mathieu Valbuena carried the ball forward and after dribbling past his personal defender lifted it into the box for the oncoming Giorgos Masouras to head it into the back of the net. The Turks desperately needed more goals, so they began to come forward with more of a drive, but still couldn't do much when they came up against the duo of SemedoMeriah, while Tsimikas and Guillherme also performed well. Martins replaced an exhausted Valbuena for a more refreshed Mady Kamara, with the Guinean winning the second yellow card of Irfan Kahveci after a clumsy challenge by the Turk on the 80th minute. The Portuguese coach saw the opportunity to score even more goals and effectively end the tie on the first game, in- PAOK hold on for a draw against Ajax The result seemed fair in the encounter, as the Greek Champions had a great last 15 minutes in the first half but the Dutch giants held on to possession and missed several opportunities in the second PAOK had their work cut out for them in their opening game of the season, as they had to face last season's Champions League semi-finalists Ajax. The Toumba stadium was at full capacity as fans wanted to show their support for their team, in Abel Ferreira's inaugural game as head coach. However things did not start off as they would have hoped, with the Dutch Champions getting possession of the ball from the kick off and showing they were the ones to control the game. Hakim Ziyech was an early threat for goalkeeper Alexandros Paschalakis' goal and just after nine minutes, the Moroccan won a free kick after he was brought down by Esiti at the left edge of the area. He took the responsibility of executing it upon himself, sending it towards Paschala- kis. Left back Dimitris Giannoulis attempted to head the ball away yet got there too late and ended up putting it past his own goalkeeper to give the visitors an early advantage. Things didn't change as Ajax continued to dominate the game, but Swedish forward Kasper Dolberg's injury (he was later replaced by Klaas Jan Huntelaar) forced the Dutch to backtrack. The home side took advantage of the wide gaps in the opposition defence and with Diego Biseswar leading the charge, carried the ball forward looking for the equaliser. That came after a wonderful counter-attack on the 32nd minute, after the Dutch midfielder waited for Giannoulis to come up from the left wing and gave him the ball at the right moment. The Greek defender moved the ball into the area and on the feet of Chupa Akpom who brought the scores level, sending the Toumba stadium into a frenzy. PAOK had gained the momentum and continued to look for goals. The second came just minutes later when Leo Jaba attempted to dribble past Lautaro Martinez, with the Argentinian bringing him down and the referee awarding the free kick. Biseswar sent it into the box, with defender Leo Matos rising above his personal marker to put the home side in front. PAOK continued to create opportunities, but they couldn't come up with a third and so the two sides went into the locker rooms with the home side having a slender lead. Diego Biseswar was one of the stand-out players in PAOK’s performance against Ajax. PHOTO: APE/MPE The second half saw a more tired PAOK who gave the opposition full control of the game, as they hoped to find a chance on the counter, yet it never came. Instead, it was the visitors who found the crucial second goal on the 57th when van der Beek's low cross ended up at the feet of PAOK defender Fernando Varela. He tried to send the ball away from danger, yet his sloppy clearance bounced off the feet of Huntelaar and into the back of Paschalakis' net. The onslaught from Ajax continued, but despite several missed opportunities from Huntelaar, Ziyech, van der Beek and even Dusan Tadic, the final whistle saw the two teams ending on level terms. Now the team from Thessaloniki have their work cut out for them, as they will need a win next week in Amsterdam if they are to continue their journey in the Champions League. Olympiacos had a clear chance to score a second on the counter, but once again Bruno took way too long to pass the ball to an unmarked Daniel Podence. They are still clear favourites to finish the job next week in Piraeus and move to the playoffs, where they will meet the winner of the Krasnodar-FC Porto tie. The Portuguese beat the Russians in the first game 0-1, thanks to a late goal by former PAOK midfielder Sergio Oliveira.
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