CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Monday, February 8, 2010
Eddie Johnson goes the distance for Aris in a humiliating defeat while Freddy Adu watches the muddy game from the bench.
In a forgettable weekend, Aris conceded two goals to the Super League's weakest team in terrible field conditions that forced the game to be played on Saturday and Sunday.
On a brighter note American Eddie Johnson recorded his first start for the Thessalonians since arriving on loan, although Freddy Adu watched the sludgefest from the sidelines.
Saturday's first half opened with torrential rain in the vacated Kleanthis Vikelidis stadium due to a fan ban. The opening twenty minutes provided few chances for either side on the waterlogged field causing sluggish tempo and awkward ball movement.
The hosts finally came to life in the 24th minute as Johnson collected a long ball, dashed ahead of defender Spyros Metetzidis and tried to find Christos Aravidis cutting into the box. Panthrakikos keeper José Manuel Roca missed the initial cross, but the tracking Konstantinos Iasonidis tapped back for the Spaniard to pounce on the loose ball.
Only a minute later Toni Calvo swung in a feed from the left for Johnson, but the American's header from ten yards flew well over the crossbar.
The 25-year old continued his potent first-half performance with a one-time header from the right side over to Calvo at the top of the area. The open Spaniard got off a shot off but watched it curl over the crossbar.
The visitors took the wind out Aris' sails in the 42nd minute with a goal after capitalizing on a mistake by replacement keeper Michal Peškovič. A deep pass from the backline found Fotis Papoulis in pursuit ahead of the Aris defense on the right just inside. The Slovakian keeper came out but mistimed his approach and hit the mud, leaving the Greek striker to deliver a fine sliding strike from a wide angle for the 1-0 lead.
With poor field conditions dictating the match, referee Christos Mitsios opted to postpone the game at the half.
Aris skipper Hector Raul Cuper made two changes to his side for Sunday's second half, bringing in forwards Sergio Koke and Stavros Labriakos for midfielders Nacho García and Javito.
Although the rain had subsided, standing water continued to be a nuisance for both squads.
In the 74th minute Aris thought they had obtained a chance at an equalizer after Toni Calvo was felled in the box by midfielder Anestis Argyriou. In spite of the sizeable splash and Calvo's plea for a call, Mitsios called for play to continue.
The frustration for Aris showed when Panthrakikos charged down on the counter-attack and produced a second goal. With Steve Beleck charging down the left side into the box, Aris defender Efthimios Kouloucheris bowled down the Cameroonian, prompting Mitsios to display a yellow card and point to the spot.
Frenchman Robert Bertrand was the striker-of-choice for the penalty and coolly slotted home to the left of the humiliated Slovakian keeper for the unexpected 2-0 lead.
In the 82nd minute it was Eddie Johnson's turn to appeal for a penalty after defender Thomas Graikos nudged him while streaking into the area, but Mitsios declined again.
The two-game slide puts Aris in fifth with 32 now that AEK Athens has caught up following a 3-1 win over Skoda Xanthi.
Xanthi themselves host Aris once again this Wednesday as the Greek Cup quarterfinal finishes up. The Black and Golds will be looking for revenge after falling 2-1 to Xanthi two weekends ago.