Panathinaikos wins Super League play-offs against the odds

By George Georgakopoulos

The Super League play-offs is a four-team round-robin tournament that Panathinaikos wins. Even in this season of austerity for the club.

On Wednesday the Greens clinched their spot in next season’s Champions League qualifiers as they have mathematically finished top of the play-off mini-table with one game left to play, given that they have acquired a four-point advantage over PAOK and Asteras Tripolis. In all four seasons that Panathinaikos has taken part in the play-offs it has snatched the top spot.

PAOK lost 1-0 at Asteras Tripolis on Wednesday afternoon through a Mauricio Carrasco header two minutes from the end of the first half, which meant that Panathinaikos needed just one point from its game later in the evening against Atromitos at home.

In what resembled a festival of missed chances, Panathinaikos and Atromitos shared a 1-1 draw that would have been very entertaining for the fans had the game not been played behind closed doors.

Viktor Klonaridis gave Panathinaikos the lead on the 33rd minute and Stefano Napoleoni equalized for the visitors four minutes from time, making Atromitos the only team not to lose to Panathinaikos this season after four encounters between the two teams.

“What we have achieved this season is really remarkable, given how we started off last summer,” said Panathinaikos manager Yiannis Anastasiou after the final whistle.

He was referring to the fact that the Greens slashed their budget for this season, used a mix of youth team graduates with some foreigners who were new to Greek soccer and managed to win the Greek Cup and the play-offs, as well as shattering the unbeaten record of champion Olympiakos with a 3-0 triumph at the Karaiskakis Stadium.

The last round of the play-offs still matters for PAOK, Asteras and Atromitos, as it will determine which round they will enter the Europa League at. On Saturday PAOK hosts Panathinaikos behind closed doors, and Atromitos clashes with Asteras.

Panathinaikos has 11 points, PAOK and Asteras are on seven and Atromitos has four.