By Panathinaikos Chicago
Panathinaikos Chicago hosted FC Columbus Friday night at the Nike Sports Complex located in Naperville, Illinois. It was a night to be remembered as PAO recorded its first victory in NPSL history.
Panathinaikos were very desperate to win their first points as they lost their first two games to Carpathia FC and Milwaukee Torrent. PAO started the game very determined with an aggressive style of play. After pressing FC Columbus in the early minutes, PAO forced a corner kick, which led to its first goal headered in by Pat Hickey.
Panathinaikos scored a second goal in the first half but unfortunately it was very close and ruled offside. Panathinaikos were dominant in the first half and the score could have been greater. The first half ended 1-0 in PAO’s favor.
The atmosphere was a very positive one as PAO fans were playing, singing, chanting, and banging drums for the whole 90 minutes.
Panathinaikos entered the second half very aggressively. The PAO players were connecting passes so fluently and had multiple opportunities in the early minutes. Early in the second half a penalty was earned, and Yeison Esquivel executed to make it 2-0.
The rhythm continued for PAO with dominant possession. Moments later, PAO won a free kick on the far left side of the attacking third of the field which led to its third goal. The free kick was distributed by Karel Ondra, while Alioune Mbaye scored the goal.
Substitutions were made in the last ten minutes of the game to give key players of PAO a breather but the game was certainly not over. FC Columbus took advantage of the change and with two opportunities (one penalty and one defensive error) the game that looked like a blowout became a nervous one in the final minutes.
There were several outstanding performers for PAO Chicago such as Ode Emena, Arsenios Dimitriou & Jesus Cervantes.
Man of the match was given to PAO’s midfielder Ode Emena.
“We had prepared very well this whole week for this game,” said PAO head coach George Katsaros. “My players gave 100% effort and I am very happy for them and their contribution. This was a game from the beginning we wanted to win. We entered the game very determined for the result. We could have scored more goals – and at the end we made the game difficult on ourselves, perhaps we lost our focus towards the end of the match. It was a very important victory for our club, and we build on this moving forward. We are a new football club and we are trying to get familiar with the category (NPSL). Our first two games were not the results we wanted but I am satisfied with our efforts in every game so far. Our team name Panathinaikos comes from a historic club in Greece. We have supporters worldwide, something that not many American clubs have. Day by day we grow bigger and stronger.”
The final score was 3-2, and the first points for PAO Chicago in NPSL history were in the books.
Panathinaikos have a bye next weekend and will play on the road against FC Indiana on June 5th, while FC Columbus has a home match against FC Indiana on May 29th.
Photo Credit: Panathinaikos Chicago