More Cup surprises

A further two first-division clubs, Iraklis and Atromitos, failed to overcome lower-division competition yesterday in the Greek Cup’s surprise-laden fourth round. A total of seven of the top league’s 16-team competition failed to make it through to the cup’s last 16. The fourth round was completed yesterday with three games. Olympiakos, playing away, trounced second-division club Paniliakos 4-0. The Piraeus club took no chances after seeing perennial rival Panathinaikos go down to the second division’s Ergotelis a night earlier. Up 2-0 by the 19th minute, Olympiakos added a third goal right before halftime and added its fourth late in the game, in the 86th minute of play. Also playing yesterday, Thrasyvoulos, promoted to the second division this season for the first time in the club’s history, eliminated first-division rival Atromitos from Cup play with a 2-0 home win. Fellow second-division club Panahaiki overcame the top league’s Iraklis in a penalty shootout after the game had ended at 1-1. Panathinaikos’s surprise exit from cup play Wednesday night was widely unanticipated, but the fourth round’s biggest shock was provided by UEFA Cup group qualifier PAOK’s inability to overcome the third division’s Agrotikos Asteras. The encounter, played last week at Agrotikos’s home ground, ended 1-1 after extra time, and the home side prevailed 5-4 in the penalty shootout. Panathinaikos’s shock 1-0 loss against Ergotelis on Wednesday prompted the club’s boss Yiannis Vardinoyiannis to summon the team’s coach Alberto Malesani for an extraordinary meeting. No details were disclosed, but the focus was on the Ergotelis game. Reports said that the Italian, whose side is placed equal second in its Champions League group after four rounds of play, continued to enjoy full backing from his administration. The local press yesterday questioned Malesani’s underestimation of Ergotelis. Ergotelis’s triumph sparked widespread local celebrations on Crete. The club’s boss, Nikos Tzortzoglou, said his team was now focused on gaining a quarterfinal place. Ergotelis was promoted to the first division for the first time in the club’s history last season, but failed to survive. It now holds the second division’s top spot.

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