SPORTS

Cisse sends Panathinaikos to the Champions League

Djibril Cisse’s brace at the Olympic Stadium on May 25 meant Panathinaikos topped the Super League playoffs with its 2-0 victory over AEK and will be Greece’s second representative in the Champions League after champion Olympiakos.

The Greens scored a precious away win behind closed doors, leaving PAOK in second place on the playoff mini-table despite the Thessaloniki team’s 5-1 triumph over Olympiakos Volou on the night.

Panathinaikos finished the six-round mini-league with 13 points, PAOK collected 12, cup-winner AEK stayed on eight, while Olympiakos Volou, with six points, will play in Europe for the first time, representing Greece in the Europa League along with AEK and PAOK.

AEK was missing several key players and was second best for most of the match. Panayiotis Lagos missed a glorious chance for the Yellows in the 17th minute, failing to beat the Panathinaikos keeper from the edge of the six-yard box.

A right-foot volley from just outside the box by Costas Katsouranis hit the AEK goal-frame to deny the visitor a spectacular goal in the 29th.

Dino Drpic and David Mateos failed to clear a weak cross from the right by Lazaros Christodoulopoulos, allowing Cisse to go clear into the box with only the goalkeeper to beat. The top scorer for the last couple of seasons in the Super League was faultless as he thundered the ball past Sebastian Saja.

Cisse scored his 24th for the season in the 67th minute as the AEK defense were unable to intercept Giorgos Karagounis?s free kick from the right. The ball flew to an unmarked Cisse inside the six-yard box and the French international headed it in to seal victory for the Greens.

Panathinaikos was forced to use substitute keeper Stefanos Kotsolis as Greece’s number 1 Alexandros Tzorvas had pulled a muscle during the warmup.

In Thessaloniki PAOK offered its fans a great end to the season, although its 5-1 win came to nothing in the end, while the Olympiakos Volou players appeared disinterested.

PAOK scored just 12 seconds into the game, as Lino had a good run from the left and crossed the ball for Dimitris Salpigidis to score the opener.

Vieirinha scored a screamer from about 30 meters to make it 2-0 in the 12th minute, probably the most spectacular goal of the playoffs.

Then, in the 38th minute, Miroslaw Sznaucner fed the ball to Diego Arias, who also unleashed an impressive strike to take the score to 3-0.

Salpigidis added his second in the 51st, as his shot was deflected into the net for PAOK’s fourth goal.

Zlatan Muslimovic was the scorer of PAOK’s fifth goal with his first touch of the ball after entering the game as a substitute in the 67th minute.

PAOK defender Mirko Savini, who came on as a substitute in the 19th minute, conceded a penalty and was sent off in the 82nd, with Juan Martin scoring a consolation goal from the spot for Olympiakos Volou.

The visitors were also left with 10 men, as Ilias Solakis got his second yellow card two minutes from time.