SL2 22/23: Proodeftiki 0-1 Athens Kallithea

After three consecutive cup wins to start the season, AKFC finally kicked off their league campaign on Monday afternoon, capturing a 0-1 win away to a feisty Proodeftiki side thanks to a spectacular strike from Brazilian phenom Demethryus and a gritty defensive performance to make the goal stand.

AKFC were missing attackers Anthony Mounier and Athanasios Kostanasios, midfield linchpin Omar Santana, and defenders Nikos Kainourgios and Leonida Rossi due to injury, while right-back Georgios Manthatis was still not fully fit and would start from the bench. Nevertheless, manager Leonidas Vokolos had a deep squad at his disposal, deploying a 4-4-2 formation with Giannis Loukinas and Panagiotis Kynigopoulos up front, Demethryus and Nili on the wings, Konstantinos Bouloulis and Pavlos Laskaris in midfield, and a back four of Stathis Vasiloudis, Ilias Evaggelou, Michalis Kyrgias, and Vassilis Rentzas, with Georgios Strezos in goal.

After nearly a month without a match, going back to the Greek Cup on 19 October, AKFC were slow out of the gate against Proodeftiki, as they looked to get into a rhythm while at the same time being cautious of the hosts. A few early half-chances lacked a bit of sharpness and decisiveness to be properly threatening, but by the half-hour mark AKFC were clearly building some momentum, and the breakthrough would come in a moment of individual brilliance.

In the 35th minute, Rentzas started a counterattack with an intelligent ball into midfield for Kynigopoulos, who turned upfield and aggressively played over the top of the defense for Loukinas out on the left wing. Loukinas did well to stop the ball at the byline before going out and laid it off for Demethryus who did the rest, cutting inside and unleashing an unstoppable curling shot into the top corner at the far post. It was a spectacular goal from the 23-year-old Brazilian playmaker, and AKFC would carry their 1-0 lead into half-time.

After the break, with the hosts having to risk going forward, AKFC would have chances to grab a second goal — the best of them when Loukinas slightly scuffed his shot on a feed from Demethryus — but with their attack not quite in sync, the focus eventually shifted to defending and seeing out the result. As Proodeftiki fought especially hard for an equalizer, it would take a combination of patience, discipline, and physicality, plus two exceptional saves from Strezos, but AKFC would hold firm and claim their first league victory of the season.

Athens Kallithea (4-4-2): Strezos, Rentzas (75’ Manthatis), Kyrgias, Evaggelou, Vasiloudis, Bouloulis, Laskaris (60’ Tsintonis), Nili (60’ Malçi), Demethryus, Kynigopoulos, Loukinas (81’ Doumtsis)