Milanov header hands Vidi vital Europa League victory
Georgi Milanov was MOL Vidi’s hero in the Groupama Aréna on Thursday evening, his early second-half header propelling his team to a 1-0 victory over Greece’s PAOK Salonika in UEFA Europa League Group L.
Vidi coach Marko Nikolic opted to select the same team which inflicted a shock 2-0 away defeat on PAOK two weeks ago in Greece but while the team was solid in defence, there was, initially at least, little attacking verve on show.
It was a cautious, even tepid first half all round with no shots or threats to speak of from either side, save for two attempts on goal in quick succession by Milanov just before half-time, one from a central position 20 metres from goal which was blocked by the head of PAOK’s Fernando Varela and the second at the end of the same phase of play, which he blazed over the crossbar with his right foot from the right side of the penalty area.
The Bulgarian forward was clearly just warming up for his main contribution of the night though, a powerful near-post header which gave Vidi the lead in the 50th minute following central defender Paulo Vinicius’ clever interception, wonderful surge forward from the halfway line, neat exchange of passes with Szabolcs Huszti and perfectly-lofted cross from the left byline.
That goal was crucial because there seemed to be little chance of either team producing any goalmouth action otherwise. So it proved as PAOK progressively became more adventurous and succeeded in pushing Vidi back towards their own goal but without any discernible result, the hosts’ goalkeeper Ádám Kovácsik only called upon once to easily gather a tame overhead kick from Aleksandar Prijovic from the edge of the penalty area, and even then the referee blew for what he deemed to be dangerous play from the PAOK forward.
The visitors had most of the ball in the latter stages with one of their substitutes, Diego Biseswar looking particularly bright, but they couldn’t find a way back into the game and thus Vidi took another precious three points, ones which elevate the Szekésfehérvár side above their Greek rivals and into second spot in Europa League Group L with six points from four matches. Marko Nikolic’s men will next travel to Belarus in two weeks’ time to take on BATE Borisov in their penultimate group-stage fixture before a final home match against Chelsea in early December.
MOL Vidi FC 1-0 PAOK (HT: 0-0)
Goalscorer: Milanov (50.)
Yellow cards: VIDI: Fiola (20.), Hadzic (49.), Nikolov (59.), PAOK: Léo Jabá (29.), el-Kadduri (46.), Sahov (82.)
MOL Vidi FC: Kovácsik - Fiola, Juhász R., Vinícius, Stopira - Nego, Hadzic, Pátkai - Huszti (Kovács I. 66.), Milanov (Nikolov 58.) - M. Scepovic (Hodzic 77.)
PAOK: Pahalakis - Léo Matos, Varela, Crespo, Tosca - Sahov, Vernbloom - Limnios (Biseswar 60.), el-Kadduri (Akpom 63.), Léo Jabá (Warda 70.) - Prijovic