AEK and PAOK have advanced to the Greek Cup final after seeing off Olympiakos and Panathinaikos respectively in quite turbulent circumstances this week. The two teams that trace their origins in Constantinople will meet in a Cup final after 34 years.
AEK managed to defend its 2-1 lead from the first leg in Piraeus losing 1-0 at home on Wednesday but eliminating Olympiakos on the away goals rule.
The Reds were dominant almost throughout the second leg at the Olympic Stadium but only found a way through eight minutes from the end with Alaixys Romao. This set the game on fire in the last few minutes, with Oscar Cardozo missing a huge chance to send Olympiakos to the final as his header hit the upright on the 90th minute.
Playing in front of some 40,000 fans, AEK saw its goalkeeper Yiannis Anestis get sent off in injury time, and the completion of its substitutions meant that striker Hugo Almeida was forced to put the gloves on and become an emergency keeper for the last couple of minutes of the game. Olympiakos’s Manuel da Costa also got ejected for a second bookable offense right at the end.
The Reds protested loudly against the referee for his calls, and their sports director Francois Modesto threatened one of the match’s officials.
In Thessaloniki on Thursday PAOK overturned its 2-0 loss from the first leg in Athens triumphing 4-0 in a match where it had everything going its way, including luck and a number of referee decisions.
Panathinaikos was the better team in the first half and missed at least five major chances (mainly via Viktor Klonaridis) to silence the Toumba Stadium, but it was PAOK that led 1-0 at half-time courtesy of a marvelous free-kick on the 14th minute.
The second half was all PAOK, with three goals coming from Leo Matos, Evgen Shakhov and Aleksandar Prijovic, while the Greens were reduced to 10 men on the 70th minute (with the score at 2-0) due to a (harsh) second yellow card shown to Niklas Hult.
The match was interrupted for three minutes in the first half as a flare thrown from the stands breezed past Panathinaikos’s Lucas Villafanes.
The Cup final will take place on Saturday May 6, probably in Larissa.