THESSALONIKI, Greece (Reuters) – Undefeated PAOK secured their first Greek league title in 34 years with a game to spare after crushing Levadiakos 5-0 on Sunday.
Thessaloniki-based PAOK also became the first non-Athens team to win the league title since Larissa did it back in 1988.
The hosts, in front of a fiery crowd at their Toumba stadium, kicked off proceedings early with Yevhen Shakhov tapping in from close range in the third minute.
Diego Biseswar made it 2-0 with a chipped penalty in the eighth and Fernando’s darting header in the 53rd triggered wild celebrations in the stands, with fans lighting dozens of flares.
Shakhov added a fourth on the hour and Karol Swiderski completed the rout nine minutes from time to make sure Romanian coach Razvan Lucescu’s team stays unbeaten in a near-flawless campaign.
They are on 77 points, with second-placed Olympiakos on 72 and one game left in the season.
Thousands of PAOK fans celebrated the expected title win a day early on Saturday with a march along the northern city’s promenade.
They started pouring onto the streets on the final whistle on Sunday to celebrate the club’s third league title and their first since 1985.
The triumph is especially sweet for PAOK, who have a long-standing bitter football rivalry with Athenian clubs, after they missed out on last season’s league crown due to their own fans’ trouble during the final matches of the campaign.
Apart from having points docked, the club also had Russian-born owner Ivan Savvidis banned for three years after storming on to the pitch with a gun in a holster.
On Sunday, Savvidis greeted each player outside the stadium before the game and remained in the vicinity, watching the game on television.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Christian Radnedge)