AEK hold firm in Peristeri
GREEK SOCCER CUP - ROUND OF 8 (1st LEG)
|Atromitos||0 - 1||AEK|
|Ponce (P) 85'|
10-man AEK held firm against Atromitos in Peristeri, sneaking a 1:0 victory in the first leg of the Greek Cup quarter-finals.
Playing at home in Peristeri, Atromitos boasted 64% of possession, however the sturdy AEK defence stood up to the challenge and Ezequiel Ponce’s contentious penalty won the game. AEK were hit by a first half injury to Ukrainian defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy and saw Ponce sent off, but that didn’t prevent them from taking a major step towards the semi-finals.
Atromitos had a strong penalty shout turned down midway through the first half. At close range, the ball appeared to strike the extended arm of Swedish left-back Niklas Hult, however referee Anastasios Sidiropoulos waved play on despite vehement Atromitos protests.
AEK managed to create the best chance of the opening 45 minutes. Twisting inside the box, Argentinian winger Lucas Boye unleashed a dangerous attempt, whipping the ball wide of the right post with Atromitos goalkeeper Christos Theodorakis struggling to get across in time.
On 55 minutes, play was halted for a long 20 minutes after a power shortage at the Peristeri Stadium, however the lights eventually came to life again and proceedings resumed.
After the break in play, both teams began to gradually increase the intensity, and AEK substitute Christos Almpanis earned a controversial penalty moments after emerging from the bench. Replays showed that Almpanis was fouled by Aristotelis Karasalidis just outside of the box, but Sidiropoulos thought otherwise, pointing to the spot.
Ponce, who had previously scored in six of seven matches in 2019 in all competitions, confidently dispatched the penalty as his powerful shot was too hot for the goalkeeper to handle.
However, 120 seconds after breaking the deadlock, 21-year-old Ponce made a lash challenge against an opponent and received his second yellow card of the day.
As a result of the clock not being stopped during the electrical fault, 24 minutes were added on to the 90, meaning Atromitos had plenty of time in which to mount a comeback against 10-man AEK.
Atromitos huffed and puffed, but they rarely troubled Vasilis Barkas, with AEK seeing out the game to seal a 1:0 win in Manolo Jimenez’s first match at the helm since returning to the Athenian club.
HIGHLIGHTS: ATROMITOS - AEK