PAOK upset the odds and defeated champion Olympiakos 2-1 in Piraeus on Wednesday to open a five-point lead at the top of the Super League table and pose as a genuine challenger for the title for the first time in the last three decades.
The last time PAOK won the league was in 1984-85, and since then the Thessaloniki club has gone through tough times. However on Wednesday it showed at the Karaiskakis Stadium that the time may have come for the team of coach Angelos Anastasiadis to rival Olympiakos for the league crown.
The league still has a long way to go, but the resilience of PAOK and the uncharacteristic faltering of the Reds so far, as this was their second defeat in 11 league games, may point to an exiting league race for the first time in years.
In front of 33,000 Olympiakos fans in Piraeus PAOK led on the 43rd minute as a wonderful counter attack by Facundo Pereyra picked Dimitris Salpingidis; he passed the ball on to Yiannis Skondras whose cross was not cleared by the Olympiakos defense to land on the feet of Stefanos Athanasiadis. The Greece striker opened the score with a tap-in, with the goal coming against the run of play.
Two minutes later David Fuster equalized for Olympiakos with a screamer from the edge of the box after a corner kick from the right, for a 1-1 score at half-time.
Five minutes into the second half PAOK restored its lead with a spectacular volley by Pereyra after a 40-yard through-ball by Ergus Kace. PAOK then held on to its advantage and even had a goal disallowed in injury time that television replays showed it should have stood.
In the day’s other games Xanthi forced Kalloni’s second loss this season with a 2-1 score, while Atromitos and Veria shared a goalless draw.
Levadiakos dismissed PAS Giannina 4-0 away, Kerkyra defeated struggling Panionios 1-0 at home, and Panthrakikos saw off visiting Platanias with the same score.
On Thursday Panathinaikos visits Panetolikos, Niki Volou hosts Asteras Tripolis and OFI meets Ergotelis at the Iraklio derby.