CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Thursday, March 18, 2010
Hector Cuper's eleven got the vital goals they needed at home in the first leg of the Greek Cup semifinal before heading to Kavala next Thursday to defend their lead.
American Eddie Johnson came on as a 79th minute substitute and helped out on the final nail in the coffin while Freddy Adu was not included in Cuper's gameday roster.
The Spanish scoring fiesta began with a 26th minute penalty from Sergio Koke after Kavala midfielder Serge Dié handled a Carlos Arano pass from the left side. The Spaniard stepped up to the spot and slotted home the opener to the left of keeper Charles Itandje.
The Blue Argonauts were undeterred by the early deficit and equalized just before the break with a little help from the right post of Michalis Sifakis' goal. Brazilian Diogo Rincón poked forward from outside the center circle to an onside Benjamin Onwuachi with plenty of room to charge at the Greek netminder. Reaching the top of the box, the Nigerian shot past Sifakis and hit the right post, spinning the ball just outside of and back into the net for the extra-time equalizer.
Aris defender Darcy Dolce Neto started out the second half with a fine free kick from just over 20 yards out that curled over the wall and just over the crossbar.
Koke followed up his first-half goal with another one at the 68 minute mark. Coming off a headed clearance, the Spaniard aimed a one-timer from the top of the area and, with a little help from defender Douglão's leg, pierced the back of the net for the lead.
Cuper made his final swap of the game in the 79th minute, bringing on Eddie Johnson for the surprisingly goal-less Javier Campora.
Fifty-fifth minute substitute Nacho Garcia nearly extended the advantage two minutes later after running up to claim a loose ball with his chest, heading down as he entered the box, and firing from the right side. Unfortunately for the Bolivian, Itandje quickly extended to deflect the ball out of bounds.
The third goal final came in the 84th after Mehdi Nafti found the American at the edge of the box for an effort from the right side. Although the French keeper blocked the Fulham man's shot with his foot, Javito was there for the follow-up and swept the loose ball for the 3-1 final.
Following their Sunday trip to Panionios in league action, the Martians will return to Kavala next Thursday to try to book their ticket to the Greek Cup final on April 24th.