CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Wednesday, February 17, 2010
The Gods of War broke the Xanthi curse as Aris paraded into the Greek Cup semifinals with Freddy Adu netting another goal and Eddie Johnson coming off the bench for the Black and Golds.
The 20-year-old Adu netted his second goal in as many games in 66 minutes of action as a starter. Aris' other American, Johnson, saw 15 minutes of action as a second-half substitute.
Play was stagnant in the opening minutes and finally came to life for Aris in the 10th minute, when an Adu corner led to a 25-yard blast signed Athanassios Prittas that curled inches over the beam.
Cámpora's opening strike came seven minutes later after Darcy Dolce Neto scampered in and unleashed an attempt from 15 yards out at Xanthi netminder Sotirios Lymperopoulos. The Greek keeper parried forward successfully but the Argentine was there for the sliding follow-up into the roof of the net, and the 1-0 lead.
Seconds before 23-minute mark Freddy Adu joined the scoreboard after Toni Calvo lofted in ball from 30 yards out on the right side over Xanthi's Zdeno Štrba. The American caught up with the feed at the penalty spot and got just enough of his left foot on the ball to deflect it in between Lymperopoulos and the left post for his first goal of the Cup and second overall.
Although Adu scored, the American also struggled to break through the Xanthi defense. In 42nd minute Prittas slid over for Adu, who drove into the box to meet up with the pass but misstruck the ball and missed wide right.
Aris keeper Michalis Sifakis deserved the shutout, and displayed a fine swat at a Mugurel Buga blast from 20 yards out in the 38th minute.
For much of the second half, the visitors struggled to find an opening, while the hosts added an insurance goal.
Cámpora nearly authored a second goal starting in the 56th but his attempt dribbled straight at the keeper. After Aris came back down the field, a corner from Adu on the left found the Argentine in the box for a header that bobbed just over the crossbar and onto the top netting.
Aris skipper Hector Raul Cuper made a 61st minute substitution involving two midfielders the Thessalonians had not seen in a while, bringing on Mehdi Nafti for the Argentine Dario Fernandez to the applause from the Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium faithful.
Just two minutes later, Cámpora once again challenged the Xanthi keeper with a 35-yarder that fell straight at the keeper.
The offensive on-slaught paid off in the 65th minute when an Adu through-ball for Cámpora at the halfline sent the Argentine off to the races down to the left side. Pausing just inside the area, Cámpora threaded through two defenders for Koke on the right side, who then threaded through a defender and the keeper for the insurance goal.
Cuper brought off the content Adu for Javito just before play resumed in the 66th minute, and brought in Eddie Johnson ten minutes later for Koke.
Javito rued a missed chance in the 88th minute after streaming into the box unguarded and just barely onside, and one-timing a Calvo feed just wide right of the net.
The final play of the game saw Brazilian midfielder Luciano ping the only chance of the second half for Xanthi off Sifakis's crossbar from 35 yards out.
With the win the Black and Golds will face off against Kavala in a home-and-away playoff to determine who will compete in the final against the winner of PAS Giannina-Panathinaikos.