Such a disappointing finish to a game which started so well. I have no complaints about the score, of course, but when you score three goals within the first twenty minutes I can’t help but build up a sense of expectation. I wasn’t surprised to see the first half end at 3-0, but I was certainly expecting another goal at least.
To be fair to the players though, it wasn’t exactly their fault. The fact that we had two injuries and were forced to make two substitutions very early in the game affected our rhythm from what I read and that’s definitely understandable. We also have to keep in mind the fact that the weather in Athens was dreadful today (cold and wet) as well as knowing that the team probably so no reason in wearing themselves out when we have some important playoff games to get ready for.
MVP of the match I believe was Buonanotte and I can’t help but be happy for him. He’s been given very few chances this season, and he’s hardly ever started a match. Despite this, he always manages to give Poyet a reason or two to trust that he can contribute when we need him. His goal so early on showed exactly the kind of ball movement we need in front of the goal. We have players who can hold on to the ball well in the centre of the pitch and players who can play well down the wings, but very few of our players can draw out defenders while working the ball into the 18 yard box the way Buonanotte can.
Aside from Buonanotte, another player well worth mentioning from today was Mantalos. As is often the case, he showed yet again how desperately we miss his presence when hes not playing. The way he can so confidently keep the ball at his feet until the right moment to make a pass is a huge factor in so many of our plays and when hes in form, he is easily our main player in attack.
The two injuries we picked up today were pretty unfortunate, especially for Soiledis since he had a great start to the game. Aside from Soiledis, Kolovetsios was also injured early on but thankfully for us, both Cordero and Buonanotte managed to play the whole game without injuring themselves.
Today’s win puts eight points ahead of PAO and a comfortable thirteen points ahead of fifth placed Panionios. What this means for us is that if the playoffs were to start today, we would start with three points, Panathinaikos with one, and both PAOK and Panionios with none. At this point I really can’t see us dropping many points and I’m pretty confident we’ll be starting the playoffs with three points. Considering we might have to have our fans banned from some of the home games during the playoffs, any point advantage we can get could potentially go a long way.
Highlights as usual at the NovaSport page below: