Iraklis secures spot in final 16

Iraklis avoided a major embarrassment in the Greek soccer cup yesterday by beating second-division Kastoria 2-3 in extra time. The Super League club had led by two goals but Kastoria managed to force extra time after striking twice in the last eight minutes. Substitute Manolis Papasterianos gave Iraklis the lead in the 42nd minute and Dimitris Yiantsis made it 0-2 in the 70th. However, the local side proved more resilient than had been expected and scored in the 82nd with Alexandros Papadopoulos before equalizing one minute from time with Vassilis Hatzivassiliadis. Iraklis managed to overcome the shock, though, and scored in the third minute of extra time with Giorgos Ioannidis. It held on to its lead despite going a man down in the 109th minute due to the second yellow card for Yiantsis. Kastoria put some pressure on keeper Giorgos Bandis but could not find a third goal. The result means that out of the 16 teams that have advanced to the fifth round of the Greek cup, only two are from the second division: Veria and Kerkyra. On Wednesday, the former defeated Thrasyvoulos 3-1 and the latter beat Levadiakos 4-2 in a penalty shootout after a goalless draw in the regular 90 minutes and the 30-minute extra time. All other Super League teams found their way through to the fifth round. Panathinaikos displayed some more defensive problems in its away match at Kavala but its attacking capacity secured it a 0-3 win over its second-division opponent. Ante Rukavina scored twice for the Greens, with the third goal coming from Lazaros Christodoulopoulos. OFI Crete defeated Agrotikos Asteras 1-2 in Thessaloniki with two goals by Fabian Gerber, one in each half. Asteras had equalized with Salvador Jimenez. Xanthi outplayed Kallithea to win 1-3 courtesy of Diego Quintana, Mauro Poy and Victor Agali. Kallithea had pulled one back through a Pantelis Rizoyiannis own goal. Panserraikos came away with a 1-2 win at Lamia, after needing a penalty kick to beat the third-division side. Valentin Badea opened the score for Panserraikos, but Fotis Papoulis put the hosts back on level terms. It was Giorgos Georgiadis who gave the Serres club the win through a spot kick in the 88th minute. Aris saw off Atromitos at Peristeri with a 1-2 win, all goals coming in the second half. The Super League side took the lead from the penalty spot via Toni Calvo, although television replays showed the penalty decision had been wrong. Javito Periante added the second, with Atromitos reducing the deficit with Michalis Kripintiris. Ergotelis downed Ethnikos Asteras 0-2 at Kaisariani through a brace by Rogerio, despite finishing the game with 10 men due to the dismissal of Dimitris Grammozis. On Tuesday, AEK had beaten Ilisiakos 1-2 in extra time, while a fortnight ago Olympiakos, Asteras Tripolis, PAOK, Panionios, Panthrakikos and Larissa had also earned their tickets to the next stage.