CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Wednesday, May 12, 2010
It was bad news for the Black and Golds after conceding a late equalizer, losing Eddie Johnson to a minor injury, and watching their cross-town rivals clinch a spot in next season's Champions League.
U.S. national team call-up Eddie Johnson got the start but came off in the 42nd minute after sustaining a hamstring injury, while compatriot Freddy Adu saw 75 minutes of action in the draw.
Having been named to U.S. coach Bob Bradley's preliminary roster on Tuesday, the Fulham-man came out on all cylinders and nearly drove Aris into the lead at the quarter-hour mark.
Out on the right side, Javito threaded a fine pass through the defense for Johnson, who collected, spun on a dime and blasted past backup keeper Giannis Arabatzis.
Unfortunately for the American, linesman Constantios Dallas correctly raised the flag.
Athens' Carlos Araujo almost found the back of the net two minutes later with an individual effort, rifling from 30 yards out inches over Michalis Sifakis' bar.
Aris and their home crowd called for a penalty in the 26th minute when Sergio Koke sent a cross off Daniel Majstorović, but head referee Anastasios Kakos waved to play on.
Eddie Johnson's day ended in the 42nd minute when the forward sustained a hamstring injury, coming off for Ian Daly.
The hosts closed out the half with a near-miss after Javito crossed in for Carlos Arano, who tapped out to Thanasis Prittas at the top of the box.
The Greek midfielder relayed a strike through but unfortunately deflected off the Arano on the ground and over the crossbar.
Prittas then made his next chance in the 47th minute count after an Arano delivery pinballed in the box. Arabatzis blocked away a close-range shot from Daly, but Pritass was there in the box to bury a shot into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
Off an Adu corner in the 63rd minute, Christian Nasuti nearly doubled the advantage with a header from six yards out that arced over the bar.
Algerian international Rafik Djebbour thought he had an equalizer after striking home an airmail delivery in the 80th minute, but Dallas again raised the flag, this time mistakenly.
In the final minute of play, the Aris backline squandered the lead after failing to deal with an innocent cross from the left side.
After the ball slipped past Nasuti and Ronaldo Guiaro, Arano whiffed at it and offered a silver platter for Leonardo, who gladly slotted home for the draw.
In the evening's other match, PAOK upended Olympiacos to claim a six-point edge with two games left and little less than Champions League qualification.
The Thessalonians regroup on Sunday in Piraeus against their only victim so far in the playoffs in Olympiacos.