Leto completes PAO double

A speculative left-foot shot by Argentine winger Sebastian Leto from 20 meters away was enough to give Panathinaikos the Greek Cup in soccer, which the Greens added to their championship crown through a tight 1-0 win over Aris at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday evening. Panathinaikos completed its domestic double for the eighth time in its history, adding a 17th Greek Cup to its trophy cabinet. Just like the league title, this was the first cup success since 2004. In a cup final that was not a repeat of last year’s memorable 4-4 match between Olympiakos and AEK, Panathinaikos and Aris played a cautious game with more emphasis on canceling out each other’s most dangerous players and less on creativity. It was therefore no surprise that the two sides only offered the 60,000 fans no more than five decent goal-scoring chances between them, three of which fell to Panathinaikos. Because of this, the match was sure to be a one-goal game; when Leto struck at the 63rd minute, the champions reverted to ultra-cautious play that served only to keep the ball and avoid taking risks in attack. Aris, on the other hand, only managed to create a couple of opportunities throughout the game but wasted them both, first due to Panathinaikos’s Alexandros Tzorvas’s fine goalkeeping and then due to to some wasteful finishing by Aris’s Sergio Koke. Aris keeper Michalis Sifakis had earlier produced a stunning double save but should have done better when Leto’s shot came bouncing toward him. Winning coach Nikos Nioplias could hardly contain his joy, rushing onto the pitch at the final whistle and stating afterward: «This was a great victory for us. Our opponent wanted the trophy very much but ran into the best team in Greece this year.» Aris will now be turning its attention to the Super League playoffs that start on Wednesday, with the Cup finalist entertaining Olympiakos in Thessaloniki and AEK hosting PAOK in Athens. The winner of the six-round process will earn a spot at next season’s Champions League qualifying round.

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