Cleyton injury-time winner saves greens
Four sides have qualified for the Greek Football Cup
Silva Cleyton spared Panathinaikos’s blushes on Wednesday with a brace that gave the league leaders a home win over minnows Pierikos 2-1 in the Greek Cup. With the win, the greens reached the quarter finals, where they’ll be joined by Aris, Kavala and Kallithea.
Panathinaikos fielded an experimental side in the knockout tie in Athens but took the lead as early as in the 18th minute through Cleyton.
The Brazilian, who was playing his first game for Panathinaikos this season, was transfer-listed last summer but failed to agree on a move elsewhere.
Pierikos equalised in the 40th minute courtesy of a backward header by Petros Konteon and could have taken the lead 11 minutes later when the Kateriniside hit the frame of the Panathinaikos goal.
As panic mode kicked in, the hosts introduced all their big guns who had been warming the bench. The entry of league top scorer Djibril Cisse and Panathinaikos captain Giorgos Karagounis tipped the balance in the Greens’ favor, with Cleyton finally coming to the rescue at the last minute of injury time to score the winner.
Aris produced another entertaining performance in Thessaloniki to defeat Super League rivals Asteras Tripolis at home with goals coming from Javier Campora and Toni Calvo, one in each half.
The two other ties were decided in the penalty shootout.
Kavala advanced as they won 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 in penalties after a 1-1 final score.
The four remaining ties will be held next Wednesday.
Pressure mounts on Zico.
Meanwhile, Olympiakos have reduced the gap from Panathinaikos at the top of the Super League back to five points after an unconvincing home win over Larissa last Sunday.
The reds won the game 2-1 but were booed off the pitch by some of their fans as pressure mounts on coach Zico.
The Brazilian said in his post-match news conference that he has no intention of resigning after seeing Olympiakos dumped out of the cup and losing two consecutive games in the league. However, speculation is rife in the Greek press that Zico’s days at the Piraeus club are numbered.
Italian midfielder Enzo Maresca opened the scoring in the 37th minute with a neat finish inside the area.
Three minutes later, Luciano Galletti swiveled in the box and scuffed a shot through a defender’s legs to give Olympiakos a seemingly unassailable 2-0 lead.
However, the Reds were lackluster in the second-half and despite the introduction of Diogo and Matt Derbyshire up front could not find a third goal.
Instead, Larissa created the chances and got back into the game in the 81stminute through shot from Romeu from the edge of the area, which hit the post and then bounced off Antonis Nikopolidis to roll over the line.
The Reds survived a couple of late scares but three points did not please the home fans and it looks like there will be some tough weeks ahead for the Piraeus club.
The win moved the champions onto 39 points from 17 games.
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