We’ll start with a caveat. Panathinaikos keeper Orestis Karnezis should have done better.
The Greek Cup produced a thrilling quarter-final second-leg on Wednesday as AEK Athens, 2-nil up from the first-leg, lost 3-2 at home to powerhouse Panathinaikos but still reached the semis with a 4-3 aggregate win.
The victory was huge for AEK. Traditionally part of the “Big Three” with Olympiakos and Pana, the Athens outfit are a shade of their former selves this season, languishing 18 points off top spot in fourth place. The reason for their downturn is grounded in severe financial problems, with club a reported 31 million euros in debt and with no obvious solutions in the pipeline to remedy the situation.
With that as the background, the quarter-final rolled around. AEK started on the front foot by scoring, only for Panathinaikos to turn the match netting three goals without reply as injury time at the end of the ninety minutes ticked over.
A staggering seven minutes additional time was awarded. AEK kept pressing without joy. And then, in the final seconds of the match, they were a awarded a free-kick just yards inside the Panathinaikos half for one last throw of the dice.
Michel Madera tookÂ responsibilityÂ for the set-play, and heÂ audaciouslyÂ when straight for goal from a massive 50-yards out. It should have been saved, but in the context Michel’s wonder-goal was a brilliant effort in the story of AEK’s troubled year.
Wednesday night also served up two special strikes in Serie A.
Chievo’s Davide Moscardelli bent in aÂ deliciousÂ opener in the Flying Donkey’s win over Napoli, and Cagliari’s Radja Nainggolan scored the winner at Sampdoria with a cracking long-range effort that pierced the net.