SOCCER

Krmencik’s late strike gives PAOK its eighth Greek Cup

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PAOK won its eighth Greek Cup on Saturday thanks to a dramatic, 90th-minute winner by Michael Krmencik for a 2-1 victory over champion Olympiakos in Athens.

The spectacular final at the Olympic Stadium grew more interesting as it went along, to culminate into a nail-biting finish that had PAOK snatch victory despite being outplayed for most of the second half by Olympiakos.

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In the first half the Thessaloniki team appeared the most passionate about this game, chasing all the balls and putting pressure on the Reds. That translated into a huge opportunity that Karol Swiderski missed by hitting the goal frame, and then into a 36th-minute penalty that Stefan Schwab earned and captain Adelino Vieirinha converted to give PAOK a 1-0 half-time lead.

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The introduction of Greece captain Kostas Fortounis changed the balance in the midfield in favor of Olympiakos. The Reds quickly equalized with Yann M’Vila five minutes after the interval and missed a great chance with Giorgos Massouras a few minutes later to snatch the lead.

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PAOK seemed lost for about half an hour and owes to its goalkeeper, Alexandros Paschalakis, for not conceding any more in the second half.

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Still, a couple of masterful substitutions by Uruguayan coach Pablo Garcia, bringing on Krmencik and Haris Tsingaras restored PAOK’s dominance and gave it a winning goal on the 90th minute that earned PAOK’s its fourth Cup in the last five years.

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PAOK’s win was followed by an eruption of joy in Thessaloniki, with thousands of fans defying the coronavirus restrictions to pour out on the streets around the White Tower and across the seaside for an all-night party.