CHRISTOPHER ANDERSON - Sunday, April 18, 2010
The Gods of War close out the season on a sour note in their loss to Pireaus, and enter the post-season playoffs with a slim chance of earning Champions League qualification.
Coach Hector Cuper started Eddie Johnson up top, bringing him off after an hour, and left Freddy Adu on the bench for the encounter.
After both squads opened up the first quarter hour exchanging slow shots straight at each keeper, Javito was given plenty of midfield space for a 25 yarder in the 17th minute but fired wide left.
A ten minute disruption followed after tear gas wafted through the stadium. When play resumed, the hosts opener finally came in the 33rd minute courtesy of Michał Żewłakow.
Spanish midfielder Óscar floated in a cross from the right side and the Pole headed home from ten yards out past Michalis Sifakis for the 1-0 lead.
Olympiakos keeper Urko Rafael Pardo threw a wrench in his teammates' plans just six minutes later, after getting sent off for tripping Johnson in the area.
Javito had fed forward for the American cutting into the box and "Parito" mistimed his approach sending the Fulham loanee to the ground and himself to the locker room.
Johnson was subsequently stretchered off after Kyriakos Papadopoulos landed on Johnson's right leg, but brushed off the injury and returned.
Piraeus boss Božidar Bandović had no choice but to bring off midfielder Ioannis Papadopoulos for keeper Pavel Kováč. However, the Slovakian was unable to stop Toni Calvo's blast for the 43rd minute equalizer.
Aris then returned the favor, conceding a last-second penalty and goal to close out the first half, after defender Ronaldo Guiaro errantly tripped Anastasios Pantos while harmlessly entering the box.
Mexican Enzo Maresca gladly took the lead with his squad into the locker rooms, driving home to the left of Sifakis.
Things worsened for Aris ten minutes into the second half when Carlos Arano was sent off for unnecessarily forearming Óscar in the neck.
Cuper compensated the Argentine's exit bringing on Sergio Koke for Camel Meriem, and followed that up at the hour mark ending Johnson's day with a Christos Aravidis substitution.
Olympiakos' Lomana LuaLua missed a golden opportunity in the 72nd minute, driving around one-on-one with Sifakis but unable to get a shot on target.
Ten minutes later the visitors squandered a chance of their own after Koke also found himself mano-a-mano with Kováč, who got a hand on the Spaniard's shot, and was unable to scoop up the loose ball in time for the equalizer.
The sloppy finishing continued in the 87th minute following a two-on-one break in which LuaLua crossed over to Maresca on the left, but the Mexican fired wide left.
The final whistle brought a close to the Super League season, and sees Aris finish fifth with 46 and Olympiakos in second with 64.
Along with third place PAOK and AEK Athens, the two enter a six-game playoff to determine Greece's second entrant into Champions League qualification.
According to a rough calculation based on final points standings, the Piraeus club will lead the group with four points, followed by PAOK with three, AEK with one and Aris on zero.
Cuper's men also regroup on Saturday in the Greek Cup final against title winners Panathinaikos.