Surprise teams draw

Two of the Greek Cup’s surprise quarterfinalists, Ethnikos Asteras and Agrotikos Asteras, from the second and third divisions respectively, drew 1-1 in a first-leg encounter yesterday. Host Ethnikos Asteras took the lead in the 67th minute but the visitor equalized six minutes later from the penalty spot. The return leg, for a coveted semifinal place, is scheduled for February 8. Defending champion Olympiakos, currently on course for a repeat of last season’s league-and-cup double, greets Xanthi today in their first-leg encounter. The return leg has been set for February 9. Second-division club Niki Volos hosts AEK next Tuesday in a rescheduled first-leg tie that was postponed because of weather-related poor pitch conditions on Tuesday. In the competition’s remaining quarterfinal encounter, Larissa holds a 1-0 advantage over Akratitos ahead of their return leg at the latter’s home ground on February 8. Intending to inject badly needed interest into the competition, officials this season opted for one-off knockout ties – and repeat games for drawn games – in the five rounds leading to the cup’s quarterfinals. Panathinaikos fell victim to the competition’s new regulations. The traditional powerhouse was eliminated by second-division club Ergotelis in the fourth round. But the Cretan team failed to capitalize on its unanticipated triumph by going down to lower-division club Agrotikos Asteras in the fifth round.

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