Heartbreak for valiant Aris
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - 3rd QUALIFYING ROUND (LEG 2)
Aris heroically forced extra time against Molde with a three-goal comeback, but a late Norwegian goal knocked the Greeks out of the UEFA Europa League in the third qualifying round.
After last week’s 3:0 hounding in Norway, not many people gave Aris a chance against a solid Molde side, but the Greeks came roaring back with a powerful performance at the rocking Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium. However, after goals from Javier Matilla, Georgios Delizisis and Nicolas Diguiny had dramatically forced extra time, substitute Mathis Bolly broke Aris hearts with a late winner.
Molde advance to the Europa League playoffs, where they will take on Partizan Belgrade. Aris are left to rue what might have been.
Aris required goals, and fast. Down 3:0 on aggregate, the hosts applied plenty of pressure on their opponents, and it eventually resulted in a goal in the 25th minute. Taking aim from long distance, Matilla arrowed a stunning free kick into the net, in turn giving Aris hope of a memorable comeback.
A comeback which soon became probable, rather than just possible.
12 minutes after the first goal, Delizisis doubled Aris’ advantage on the night, knocking Giannis Fetfatzidis’ pass beyond Molde goalkeeper Alexandro Craninx at point blank range.
The second half saw Aris lay siege to the Molde goal. During the second set of 45 minutes, Aris registered 12 shots on goal compared to Molde’s three, with their urgency rapidly increasing.
Their craved third goal arrived with only six minutes remaining.
Escaping his marker inside the penalty box, Diguiny connected with a pinpoint cross from the right flank, neatly glancing the ball into the net.
Moments later, Brown Ideye could have completed the turnaround for Aris, but he was denied by a smart low stop from Craninx.
Aris were firmly in the box seat, but against the run of play, Molde struck a killer blow in extra time.
Molde substitute Bolly suddenly found himself clean through, and he carefully lobbed the ball over the emerging Julian Cuesta. Serious questions will be asked of the Spanish goalkeeper.
Aris threw everything at Molde in the remainder of extra time, but it wasn’t to be.
Aris: Cuesta, Korhut (Basha 104’), Delizisis, Rose, Sundgren, Lucas Sasha, Matilla, Larsson (Martinez 64’), Fetfatzidis (Younes 78’), Diguiny, Ideye (Tonso 101’).
Molde: Craninx, Haugen (Forren 54’), Gabrielsen, Bjørnbak, Haraldseid, Hussain, Aursnes, Omoijuanfo (Bolly 88’), Hestad (Knudtzon 99’), Eikrem (Ellingsen 75’), James.
HIGHLIGHTS: ARIS - MOLDE