How close can it get. We were two minutes away from booking our place in the semi finals, in front of over 65,000 peaceful and well behaved AEK supporters, when it all ended.
I’m not sure how to feel right now to be honest. There’s some dissapointment, anger, pride, I guess a bit of everything. On the one hand, I want to focus on the positives, but I can’t help but dwell on the fact that we were so close to one of the greatest moments of the past three years for us. After all that we’ve been through, nothing could be more indicitave of the progres we’ve made and how well we’ve turned things around, than winning a Cup as a second division team.
The game started off fairly slowly, with both teams taking a while to settle into some sort of rythm. Olympiakos seemed to be controlling pressure early on, but it was clear their creativity in front of our net was lacking, and they were having a hard time coping with the pressure we were applying high up. Just as with the first match in Karaiskaki, it was AEK who were the only team making something of the possesion when they had it.
Eventually the chances started coming, with Aravidis and Mantalos both coming agonizingly close before the first half ended. Nonetheless, after the first 45 minutes the score was 0-0, and it started to seem like AEK were settling for the draw which would take them to the next round.
The second half started comfirming my fears further of AEK settling for a draw. We were defending well, and still moving the ball, but we began applying pressure deeper into our own territory, and were soaking up Olympiakos’ chances as they came.
Fortunately for us, our defence was almost flawless today. We were organized and solid, with Johansson in particular coming back often to stop any attacks before they could develop too much. Unfortunately for us though, there was only so much they could take before they would crack, and they finally did in the 89th minute with Jara taking advantage of some sloppy defending on our part and scoring an equally sloppy goal.
At that point, it all fell apart. The moment Olympiakos scored their goal, a number of people invaded the area surrounding the pitch and came close to getting their hands on some Olympiakos players, even managing to throw some flares inches away from them. Of course, Olympiakos’ players ran into the lockers immediately and from then on never appeared again on the pitch. AEK’s players remained, waiting anxiously for some sort of announcement, an announcement which ultimately never came.
The whole thing is a shame really. With a crowd of almost 70,000 fans, the entire match was peaceful until that last moment, and even then it was only a handful who ruined it for the rest of us. I don’t even know if they were AEK fans, or who they were, but it was clear whoever it was, they were waiting for that moment to make it onto the pitch.
Its safe to say we all have a right to be disappointed. We could have won the last game, we came close to winning this one, and for much of both matches we were the better team.
On the other hand, we all have a right to be proud too. Its clear to everyone who has been following the team that we are headed in the right direction. If you told an Olympiakos fan that it would take a lucky 89th minute goal to get past a second division AEK, they would have likely laughed in your face. Through all this, AEK, its management, and its supporters have proven to the rest of Greece that they will be back strong and ready come next season.
There has been talk on the refereeing from tonight’s match, and rightfully so. Olympiakos’ players went down awfully easily, and we had a couple non existent offside calls made against us. However, is there really a point in commenting on the refereeing? We can talk all we want about change, but its pretty apparent that things will never change, particularly when certain teams are involved..
Instead, I’d like to focus on some of the positive aspects we can take away from tonight’s game:
As always, I look forward to your comments!