Stoppage Time – International Football Blog

Greece: Panathinaikos celebrate league and cup double

Posted in European Football by peterbein on April 24, 2010
Panathinaikos

Panathinaikos are celebrating winning the league and cup double in Greece

Greek Super League champions Panathinaikos are celebrating winning their first league and cup double since 2004 after they defeated Aris Thessaloniki 1-0 in the Greek Cup final on Saturday. Argentinian Sebastián Leto scored the only goal midway through the second half to give Prasinoi (the Greens) victory in a memorable season. “Stoppage Time – International Football Blog” reviews the 2009-10 season in Greece.

Before the season got under way many were asking if anybody could halt the juggernault that was Olympiakos, the perennial Greek champions having won thirteen of the previous fourteen league titles. In that time Panathinaikos’ 2004 triumph was the only time that Thrylos (the Legend) had gone without the trophy. However there were to be hard times ahead for Olympiakos as they  sacked two coaches, Temuri Ketsbaia and Zico, during the season despite only losing four league games in the campaign. Current coach Božidar Bandović was able to take the title race to the penultimate game of the season but it was clear that Panathinaikos, whose coach Henk Ten Cate left during the season through mutual consent, were the most consistent side throughout the campaign and they had the league’s top scorer Djibril Cissé. The Frenchman scored twenty-one goals on the way to leading his team to a six point title triumph over Olympiakos and a further two ahead of third place PAOK Thessaloniki. PAOK had a very respectable campaign and, at one point, threatened to take the title over the Big Two but had a little less strength in depth than their title rivals, dropping points towards the end of the season. In the end it was Panathinaikos who held their nerve and claimed their 20th league championship in the process.

In the race for European places there are four teams who will compete in the end of season play-offs for the second UEFA Champions League for next season with each team allocated a number of points depending on where they finished in the regular season. Second place Olympiakos start with four points, one ahead of PAOK. AEK Athens, who had a truly bad start to the season, will begin the play-offs with one point while fifth place Aris will begin pointless. Each team will play each other in a home and away round robin with the leader after six games claiming the spot in Europe’s top club competition next season. At the bottom of the Super League it was a very difficult campaign for Panthrakikos who didn’t win a league game until Matchday 20 by which time they were as good as relegated. They will be joined in the second division next season by PAS Giannina and Levadiakos, the latter were unlucky to be the final team to go down as anyone up to Larissa in eighth place could’ve gone down with only three points separating those teams after thirty games.

The final of the Kypello Elladas (Greek Cup) pitted champions Panathinaikos against Aris Thessaloniki, the latter hoping to win their second cup title after their one and only to date in 1970. However the final didn’t really live up to the billing as both teams cancelled each other out for large chunks of the game. The game was 63 minutes old when the crucial moment arrived. Former Liverpool player Sebastián Leto hit a hopeful shot from 30 yards out which bounced twice along the ground before finding the back of the net. Aris tried to attack the Pana goal late on the game in the hope of finding that all important equalizer to take the game into extra-time but it wasn’t to be. Panathinaikos secured their 17th Greek Cup triumph and, with it, their seventh league and cup double.

Cissé fires “Pana” five points clear in Greece

Posted in European Football by peterbein on January 7, 2010
Djibril Cisse

Djibril Cissé scored twice in Panathinaikos' 4-1 win over Ergotelis FC

The Greek Super League returned to action this week and it proved to be a welcome return for Panathinaikos who were the big winners after all the Matchday 16 games had been completed.

Already two points ahead in the championship table Panathinaikos (41 points from 16 games) came from behind to dispose of Ergotelis FC 4-1. After Ergotelis had taken a shock lead through Michail Fragulaikis, former Liverpool FC striker Djibril Cissé scored a brace, one goal in each half, and was joined on the scoresheet by Giorgos Karagounis and another ex-Liverpool player Sebastián Leto, who scored two minutes into stoppage time to complete the rout. “Pana” increased their lead in the table over champions Olympiakos to five points just hours before their main title challengers were due to play a big city derby against AEK Athens.

Olympiakos (36 points), who have won all but one of the last thirteen Greek championships (‘Pana’ breaking up the spell winning the 2004 title), played at home against the team whom they defeated to win the Greek Cup final last season in one of the greatest matches of all time (4-4 after extra-time followed by a penalty shoot out which Olympiakos won 15-14). When the home side took the lead through a controversial Avraam Papadopolous goal on 28 minutes things seemed to be going the way of Zico’s men. However the lead only lasted five minutes after Nacho Scocco equalised with a well taken strike. When the same player scored his second to give AEK the lead on 40 minutes the home fans were stunned. It is not very often that Olympiakos fans see their team lose at home but after another frustrating 45 minutes in the second half that was exactly what they were to experience for the first time this season. For AEK it could prove to be a turning point in a hitherto miserable season. The win took them up to fifth place and now they can hope to challenge for a place in Europe next season.

In the other games PAOK Thessaloniki remain third after a 1-0 home win over Panionios. Vladimir Ivic’s strike took PAOK to thirty-one points, five behind second place Olympiakos. Their arch-rivals Aris beat Atromitos 3-0 to remain fourth in the table, six points behind PAOK and one ahead of AEK. At the bottom of the league it’s looking more and more desperate for Panthrakikos (2 points from 16 games) who remain without a win after going down to a 3-1 defeat away at Iraklis. Second bottom Giannina gained a point away at Xanthi to increase the deficit between themselves and Panthrakikos to thirteen, therefore highlighting the mountain which the latter have to climb if they are to avoid relegation.