SPORTS

PAOK and AEK win eventful first-leg games in Cup

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Soccer

PAOK and AEK scored narrow home wins over Olympiakos and Aris respectively on Wednesday, leaving the Greek Cup semifinal ties wide open.

PAOK came back from 2-0 down to beat Olympiakos 3-2 at Toumba in a game that had it all, unlike the rather drab affair of the same fixture for the league 10 days earlier. The match boasted four goals in the first 12 minutes and plenty of action throughout.

Olympiakos was 2-0 up from the sixth minute, first through Ahmed Hasan and then via Guilherme, making the most of the errors by the depleted PAOK defense in this game.

Spurred on by the jeers of their own fans, the home players drew level within six minutes, goals coming from Dimitris Pelkas and Josip Misic.

In the rest of the game the two sides missed plenty of chances but only PAOK got to score, thanks to a second-half penalty by Pelkas. PAOK was also left with 10 men in the last few minutes after the straight red shown to Dimitris Giannoulis.

Olympiakos was forced to field a 17-year-old goalkeeper, Kostas Tzolakis,  from the start as both its main keepers were injured.

The match between AEK and Aris was no less eventful. AEK won 2-1 taking advantage of the fact Aris was left with 10 players early in the second half, but the game was full of controversy.

AEK took an eighth-minute lead with Petros Mantalos, but a highly controversial penalty awarded to Aris two minutes later allowed Bruno Gama to equalize.

AEK’s protests at the penalty decision continued during half-time with reports speaking of an incident in the locker rooms of the Olympic Stadium involving the owners of the two clubs. This led the Portuguese referee to put off his return to the pitch for the second half by 25 minutes, for the situation to revert to calm.

It was not long before there was more controversy, though, as the video assistant referee’s review led to a red card shown to Javier Matilla on the 50th minute. The Aris players considered walking off the pitch, but the game soon resumed, with Ognjen Vranjes scoring the winning goal on the 57th. In the melee that followed the goal, a member of Aris’ staff was found lying on the ground, leading to a five-minute stoppage to the game.

Online