Panathinaikos staged a Houdini act in the group stage of the Greek Cup, as it somehow managed to escape elimination right at the end of the round, while it seemed that it was destined for a shameful exit. There was no such luck for five other Super League clubs, ie Panionios, Larissa, Kerkyra, Iraklis and Veria.
Bottom of the group with just one point from two games, and with its fate not in its collective hands but on those of OFI and Iraklis, Panathinaikos also fell behind second-division Apollon 2-0 at half-time in the last group game on Thursday, while it needed to win. Upset with their team the Panathinaikos fans left the Rizoupoli stadium and missed the second half.
Yet the Greens found their feet after the interval and scored three times in 10 minutes, plus an own goal, to win 4-3 and advance to the round of 16, also courtesy of OFI’s 2-1 victory over Iraklis, that saw the second-division side from Iraklio join the Greens in the knock-out stages.
Olympiakos fielded a B-team at Sparti and completed its three-out-of-three in the group with a 1-0 win, while AEK produced a forgettable performance to draw 0-0 at second-division leader Lamia, that also qualified to the next round.
PAOK scored seven goals in the first half at Panelefsiniakos, the second division’s bottom side, and saved its strength in the second half to win 7-0 on Wednesday, having already qualified.
Trikala eliminated neighboring Larissa beating it 1-0 at home, with the scorer on the 90th minute being a Larissa loan, Giorgos Yiannitsanis.
The teams to qualify as group winners and get seeded for the Round of 16 draw are: PAOK, Olympiakos, PAS Giannina, AEK, Panetolikos and Asteras Tripolis from the Super League, plus OFI and Kissamikos from the Football League.
They will pick opponents from the pool of the group runner-ups, who are Platanias, Panathinaikos, Xanthi, Levadiakos and Atromitos from the top flight, plus Trikala, Aris and Lamia from the second division.