SPORTS

Iraklis, Apollon and Xanthi in Cup semis

The prospect of a second-division team reaching the Greek Cup final has grown considerably after two out of the three teams that made the semifinals this week come from the Football League. Apollon Smyrnis and Iraklis have joined top-flight Xanthi in the last four, with the line-up set to be completed next week after the second leg between AEK (also of the second division) and Olympiakos.

Iraklis produced the upset of the quarterfinals as it managed to overcome Super League club Panionios in the penalty shootout away from home on Wednesday. The Thessaloniki club had won 2-0 at home in the first leg, but Panionios brought the aggregate score in level terms with two goals from the first half at Nea Smyrni.

However Iraklis (owned by Greek-Canadian Spyros Papathanasakis) held on in the rest of regulation time plus the extra time, with both sides left with 10 men, and its Brazilian goalkeeper Huanderson scored a penalty and saved another in the shootout to bring the 1976 Cup winner to the semis.

In the all-Football-League tie Apollon Smyrnis beat Hania 3-1 on Thursday and 4-2 on aggregate to make the cut one year before the historic Athens-based club that was founded in Smyrna (today’s Izmir in Turkey) in 1891 celebrates its 125th birthday.

Xanthi is so far the only representative of the Super League in the semifinals, as having previously eliminating Panathinaikos it saw off OFI Crete with an emphatic 3-0 win at home on Thursday after a 1-1 draw on Crete.

The draw for the semifinals will take place on March 17.