Cup produces surprise result

Two Greek soccer cup games played yesterday produced a surprise result and came close to prompting another with second-division club PAS Yiannina making the quarterfinals and high-profile Panathinaikos getting there, but only just. Yiannina struck twice within two minutes just before halftime to oust the first division’s Iraklis with a 2-0 score. The teams had drawn 1-1 in the first attempt at getting a result from this fifth-round cup game, prompting yesterday’s repeat match with Yiannina as host this time around. The home side, which made a strong start in the game and dominated for the greater part, went ahead on 43 minutes with a goal from Costas Kaznaferis and doubled its lead a minute later with Giorgos Saitiotis as the scorer. The two-goal advantage was never really threatened by Iraklis, currently hovering just above the top league’s relegation zone. It was the second successive year that the Thessaloniki team went down in the cup to second-division opposition. Yiannina, formerly one of the country’s most feared provincial clubs, is pushing for promotion to the top league. It currently shares third spot in the 18-team second division with Kastoria, a point behind second-placed Ilissiakos and five behind the front-runner Levadiakos. The top three clubs gain promotion to the Super League. Panathinaikos, confined to a scoreless home draw by Apollon Kalamaria in its first attempt at making it past the fifth round, needed to come back from behind in yesterday’s repeat match in Thessaloniki before eventually killing off its stubborn host in a penalty shootout. Striker Alban Bushi opened for Apollon in the 14th minute. A lackluster Panathinaikos managed to make it 1-1 in the 65th minute when Dimitris Papadopoulos tapped in after fellow striker Dimitris Salpigidis headed down a majestic Vangelis Mantzios cross from the right flank. There was no scoring in the additional 30 minutes of extra time, and Panathinaikos won the ensuing penalty shootout 3-2. Two more fifth-round cup repeat matches are scheduled for today. Ionikos hosts Kerkyra and Larissa greets OFI. Defending champion Olympiakos, Xanthi, PAOK and second-division Ilissiakos are already through to the quarterfinals.

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