Cleyton brace saves PAO

Panathinaikos scraped past second-division Pierikos yesterday in the Greek soccer Cup to avoid the embarrassing fate that befell rivals Olympiakos and AEK earlier in the competition. The Greek league leader won 2-1 thanks to a goal in injury time to reach the quarterfinals of the cup along with Aris, Kallithea and Kavala. This meant the Greens did not go out to lower-division opposition as did Olympiakos (to Panserraikos) and AEK (to Thrasyvoulos) in the previous round. Panathinaikos fielded an experimental side in the knockout tie in Athens but took the lead early, in the 18th minute, through Silva Cleyton, the Brazilian who was playing his first game for Panathinaikos this season after being transfer-listed last summer but failing to agree on a move elsewhere. Pierikos equalized in the 40th minute courtesy of a back header by Petros Konteon and could have taken the lead 11 minutes later when the Katerini side hit the post of the Panathinaikos goal. The hosts started panicking and brought on the big guns. The introduction of league top scorer Djibril Cisse and Panathinaikos captain Giorgos Karagounis tipped the balance in the Greens’ favor, although it was Cleyton who again came to their rescue in the last minute of injury time to score the winner. Also yesterday, Aris produced another entertaining performance to defeat Asteras Tripolis at home with goals coming from Javier Campora and Toni Calvo. The two other ties were decided in penalty shootouts. Kavala advanced after winning 4-2 in the shootout after a goalless 120 minutes at Levadiakos, while in the all-third-division clash between Kallithea and Trikala, the hosts won 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 final score. The four remaining matches will be held next Wednesday.

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