Marcus Berg netted a brilliant hat-trick as Panathinaikos FC beat PAOK FC 4-1 at Athens' Olympic Stadium to claim the Greek Cup for the 18th time – their first silverware since winning the double in 2009/10.
Berg broke the deadlock on 15 minutes but it was his second just after half-time that was pivotal. Dimitris Salpingidis had twice gone close to an equaliser, rattling the bar with a header, when the Sweden striker collected the ball and with PAOK expecting a shot, fired a delicious shot inside the near post. Nikos Karelis soon made it 3-0 and, though PAOK never gave up, the final was effectively over.
The Greens had looked sharper from the off, Zeca forcing PAOK goalkeeper Panagiotis Glykos into action inside the opening 60 seconds. Berg duly rewarded their ascendancy, calmly firing in after an attempted header clear following Nano's corner landed at his feet.
PAOK settled, though, and with half-time their forward forays began to carry real menace. Captain Salpingidis headed against the bar and, right before the interval, was millimetres away from turning in Miroslav Stoch's cross with the goal at his mercy.
The momentum was with the Salonika outfit, only for Berg to snatch it back with his fine opportunist strike. Three minutes later Glykos was beaten again as Karelis headed in a Nano corner and PAOK coach Giorgos Georgiadis went for broke, sending on Zvonimir Vukić and Lino.
The pair combined to reduce the arrears in the 68th minute, Lino winning a penalty under a challenge from Mehdi Abeid, which Vukić converted. Yet this was Berg's night. With two minutes to go he surged past a defender and into the box, bamboozling Juan Insaurralde with some fancy footwork before sending an unstoppable left-foot drive into the net.
"Not even in my wildest dreams could I imagine netting three goals in a game like this," he admitted. Coach Giannis Anastasiou congratulated his players, adding: "I feel happy and vindicated. At the start of the season few people believed in us. This team have a bright future."
PAOK still have an opportunity to avenge defeat. The teams will contest the play-offs for Greece's second UEFA Champions League spot along with Asteras Tripolis FC and Atromitos FC, beginning on Wednesday.
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