AEK 4-1 Iraklis
Our second important win against a team from Thessaloniki in less than a week, a win which pretty much ensures we make it to the semifinal of the Cup. It was a game that had its fair share of excitement with an own goal being scored, Bakakis getting a red card early on, and the game being called off for a few minutes while the ref waited for the supporters to calm down. Despite all the commotion and going a man down from so early on though, we showed great character too not only hold on for the win, but to score three more goals.
While the refereeing left much to be desired today, our performance was very encouraging and I cant help but credit Poyet for setting the team up so well and reacting well to Bakakis’ red. I was a bit disappointed to see him take of Buonanotte so early on, but the decision to take him off and put Galo at right back was one that had to be made. We were only 1-0 up at that point and conceding then would have really altered the game. Iraklis also switched to a formation with two designated forwards as the game progressed proving Poyet’s substitution to be even more crucial.
It was great to see the team play seemingly unaffected by the red card and react in such a positive way. I was following the game on live commentary and I was so worried that we would hold back onto the 1-0 lead as we did against PAOK over the weekend but there was no sign of that today.
With every game I like Poyet more and more (though as our performances continue to improve, I get more and more worried that he’ll get picked up by another team this summer). I was worried when we first signed him that he would favour our foreign players over the Greeks in the squad but hes constantly shown that its not the case at all. Today’s starting XI for example contained seven Greeks and the fact that hes playing so many Greeks at this stage of the Cup really reassures me that he has faith in our Greek players. All I can for now is that games like today give him the confidence to start players like Kolovetsios and Lambropoulos in the league more often. I’ll be very interested to see who Poyet goes with for centre back this weekend against Veria. With Atromitos and Olympiakos coming up, this weekend is essentially Poyet’s only chance to experiment a bit more with centre back options before it really matters.
The match today really made it clear yet again that we desperately need to sign another attacker. Sure we scored four goals and showed great movement going forward, but one of those goals was an own goal, one was scored by a centre back, one was a deflection of a shot by a midfielder, and one was a penalty. For yet another game, not one of our goals has come from one of our strikers. In fact, looking back on recent games, the last time one of our forwards scored a goal was five games ago when Aravidis scored against Xanthi. We’ve done great to score and win these past seven games in a row, but we really need forwards who are able to get in the right positions and finish well. I can only hope that we sign someone who can do this job for us soon because we have some tough games coming up, especially if we make to the next round of the Cup.
Highlights can be seen here:
As well, MONOAEK24’s channel on youtube has also uploaded the whole game again for those who missed it. I’ve just watched the first half and will be watching the second half later tonight. I really hope they keep this up, its great being able to watch the game afterwards on days when I’m at work.