CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Monday, May 10, 2010
The Athenians staged a late comeback after Aris organized one of their own thanks to Eddie Johnson, as both teams finished the heated encounter with nine men.
The Fulham loanee went the distance and netted Aris' second goal of the afternoon, while Freddy Adu remained on the bench as an unused substitute.
Rafik Djebbour brought the hosts into the lead after 27 minutes following a Nacho Scocco delivery and a fortunate deflection. Scocco cut across the top of the box from the left and caromed a pass off defender Ronaldo Guiaro, which fell to the Algerian international for a windmill shot into the corner of Michalis Sifakis's net.
The red-card fest began in the 36th minute when AEK's Sanel Jahić saw his second yellow, followed three minutes later by Aris' Toni Calvo with his second booking of the day.
Another Athens player received his marching orders in the 56th minute as Argentinian goalkeeper Sebastián Saja was red-carded for downing Javier Campora in the penalty area.
After AEK coach Dusan Bajevic brought on keeper Giannis Arabatzis for striker Ismael Blanco, Campora stepped up and blasted past Arabatzis for the equalizer.
Eddie Johnson brought the visitors into the lead in the 72nd minute off a delivery from Darcy Dolce Neto on the right flank. The American timed his leap well and nodded past Arabatzis from eight yards out for the 2-1 advantage.
The lead would not last long as Athens staged a remarkable comeback thanks to sloppy defending from Aris. With a quarter of an hour left to play, Pantelis Kafes found Leonardo in the box for a one-timed right-footer from 15 yards out that caught Sifakis off guard and dribbled past the stunned keeper into the net for the 2-2 equalizer.
Aris shot themselves in the foot just a minute later, conceding an unnecessary penalty that Scocco gladly converted for the 3-2 lead.
The Brazilian Leonardo finished off the dismantling of the Aris defense in the 84th minute with a close-range header off a cross from Scocco on the right side.
The loss means Aris sit in the cellar of the four-team play-off standings with only three points, and will look for a win at home in a Wednesday night rematch against AEK Athens.