The top two met in Greece’s Super League this weekend with champions PAOK, led by Abel Ferreira, hosting Pedro Martins’ Olympiacos in Thessaloniki on Sunday evening.
Table toppers Olympiacos emerged the victors through a 1-0 win, inflicting PAOK’s first home defeat in the league in almost two years and opening up a five-point gap at the top of the standings.
Both sides came into the game with heavy Portuguese representation. For hosts PAOK, Abel Ferreira has been in charge since the summer having taken over from double-winning coach of last year Razvan Lucescu, while captain Vieirinha was deployed at right-back. Former Guimarães boss Martins, in his second season with Olympiacos, had José Sá in goal and Rúben Semedo in defence, while recent signing Cafú was a substitute.
An extremely close encounter with only three attempts on target across both sides, the match was decided by an own goal just a few minutes into the second half. Lazar Randelovic’s cutback led to PAOK defender Dimitris Giannoulis putting through his own net in the 49th minute, with an almost immediate response from Portuguese-born Fernando Varela at the other end ruled out by VAR.
Abel Ferreira [PAOK coach}
"I would like to thank our fans for the support they have given us today throughout the game. Nothing's over, we still have a long way ahead of us. The result is unfair, Olympiacos were successful in scoring but I would like to see our disallowed goal again.
“My team tried. Once the goal of Olympiacos came against the run of play, we needed an aggressive spirit and this was what we were trying to do with two strikers. The team with a bit of luck on their side was going to get the goal and win today and unfortunately it went for Olympiacos. We kept pushing to change the result, but we didn’t succeed.”
Pedro Martins [Olympiacos coach]
“The championship half over with the 5-point lead? No, because even though the game was important, nothing is over yet. The championship has a long way to go. We have a lot of games against a lot of teams and strong opponents. We cannot say anything until the championship is over. It was not a final, it was not decisive, it was just an important game today.
“The difference between this year and last? The big difference is that last year's Olympiacos was a very young team and we had to be patient because we had players that were not experienced. Weren't mature last year, but not we’re more experienced and now know how to manage a derby. Last year the team was very new. We are much more ready this year.
“Portuguese coaches in Greece? I am proud. It’s a good feeling because in Greece our work is recognised. My colleague is as important as the previous Portuguese coaches. The Greeks have great respect for Fernando Santos and I am very happy about the work of my compatriots.”
By Sean Gillen