Now through to the semis

Third-division club Agrotikos Asteras advanced to the Greek Cup’s semifinals following a resounding 4-0 win over second-division opponent Ethnikos Asteras in a second-leg quarterfinal tie played yesterday. The two sides had drawn 1-1 in the first leg. Agrotikos Asteras, based in northern Greece on the outskirts of Thessaloniki, will now meet either AEK or Niki Volos in the semifinals. AEK and Niki Volos remain tied at 0-0, with a second leg at AEK’s home ground scheduled for February 22. Only one other third-division side has reached the Greek Cup’s semifinals. Kastoria, currently playing in the second division, had reached the competition’s final four two seasons ago. Agrotikos Asteras opened the scoring in the 35th minute, then consolidated its standing with two further goals in the 67th and 75th minutes of play, before adding its fourth during injury time. On its way to the semifinals, Agrotikos Asteras eliminated formidable first-division club PAOK, a UEFA Cup participant this season, in the Greek Cup’s fourth round. That match was determined by a penalty shootout, following a 1-1 draw, which ended 5-4 in favor of Agrotikos Asteras. In the next round, the surprise semifinalist stopped Cretan second-division club Ergotelis’s ambitious cup run with a 2-0 win. The Cretans had gone into the encounter with lofty aspirations after eliminating Panathinaikos in the previous round. Intending to inject needed excitement and overall interest into the Greek Cup, officials this season decided to convert to one-off knockout play for the competition’s first five rounds before resorting to home-and-away encounters for the quarterfinals and semifinals. Also yesterday, Larissa advanced to the semifinals with a 1-0 away victory over Akratitos for a 2-0 aggregate score. Larissa is now due to meet either defending champion Olympiakos or Xanthi. They are set to play their quarterfinal second-leg match this afternoon at Xanthi following a 1-1 draw at Karaiskaki Stadium.

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