Football Cup, Aris-Olympiakos 0-1: In the semi-finals with hero Tzolakis

With a goal by Youssef El Arabi in the 88th minute Olympic prevailed 1-0 Mars in “Kleanthis Vikelidis” and with 2 wins qualified for the semi-finals of the Greek Cup where he will face AEK.

The hero of the match was Konstantinos Tzolakis. The young goalkeeper of Olympiakos had a total of 8 saves in the game, the most important being the one in the 84th minute on Gray’s penalty while the match was tied at 0-0.

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Olympiacos was left with 10 players from the 82nd minute due to Doe’s dismissal (in the penalty shootout).

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The Piraeus team will play AEK in a double semi-final for a place in the final. The first semi-final will be held at OPAP Arena (February 7-9) and the second leg at “G. Karaiskakis” (28/2 – 2/3).

Aris – Olympiakos: This is how they played…
With the latest “victim” of injuries to Moses Odubajo, Alan Pardew obligatorily “baptized” right back Bradley Mazikou as he had no other choice. This gave Marvin Piersman a starting jersey.

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The main cut of the British technician was the use of three inside means (Etembo, Doukoure, Manu García), a decision which sent Darida to the right wing. At Olympiakos, Mitchell did not use Huang in the starting line-up considering that he is burdened, so Embika’s partner was Samasekou, while the surprise came from the choice of Valbuena in a free role, a decision which left Hames, Fortuni O Papastathopoulos on the bench he was the “pillar” of the defense with Rodinei, Reapciuk at the ends and Masouras, Biel, Bakabu at the top of the attack.

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Aris was in control of the game in the first half and especially in the first quarter, Olympiacos had a problem in curbing the aggression of the hosts who threatened with Etembo and Manu Garthia. The visitors began to balance the game from the 15th minute onwards, but having trouble controlling the movements of Andre Gray at the back of the defense, regardless of the fact that the Jamaican did not have the phases like the one in the 18th minute where he did… chaff from a lateral position within the area.

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The saves that were left
In the 29th minute, Bradley Mazikou committed a serious foul but it did not prove to be disastrous for his team as the same player made sure to clear the ball (with a double effort) almost on his team’s goal line after a Bale turn. It was preceded by Julian Cuesta’s excellent save on Valbuena’s header in the 20th minute. Aris started to regain control of the game from the half hour mark and created the conditions for goals like in the 34′ phase when Gray tried to beat Tzolakis from an extremely wide position. The Olympiakos goalkeeper is credited with saving the 30-year-old forward’s shot in stoppage time in the first half.

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Counter attack for… seminar
The first half ended without a score (0-0) because Aris failed to transform its superiority, and Olympiacos threw away its greatest moment. This took place in the 43rd minute when after a bad corner kick by Aris, five Olympiakos players went on the counter attack with only Mazikos facing them! The selection of Piraeus is to be taught a seminar in what not to do on the counter-attack with a numerical advantage as the way the phase ended (a projection from Bakabou where the ball ended up outside the goal) was disappointing to say the least in relation to the conditions created.

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The first quarter of the second part did not offer the slightest as Aris did not take advantage of the static phases won around the perimeter of the Olympiakos area, nor did the Piraeus team do anything remarkable on the field. In the 59th minute, the “yellows” asked for a penalty on the hand of Embilas inside the area, the referee and VAR had a different opinion and a fight was threatened as the entire bench of Aris surrounded the 4th referee. The Hungarian referee handed out yellow cards but did not indicate anything. Six minutes later (65′) Tzolakis made a terrible save on Marvin Piersman’s shot from the side. It was preceded by the entry of James Rodríguez from Mitchell’s side in order to give his team a way to express themselves in attack.

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Seeing his team not creating and closing down, Mitchell brought on El Arabi, Gary Rodriguez to breathe life into his attacking line. Alan Pardew responded by bringing on Luis Palma in place of Manu Garcia who appeared to be in trouble.

Gray threw away the opportunity and Tzolakis kept Olympiakos
In 84′, Andre Gray had a unique opportunity to equalize the score of the first game. In a phase where the Jamaican escaped from Doi, the Olympiakos stopper overthrew him inside the area and Vand awarded a penalty, even sending Doime off with a straight red. Tzolakis read Gray’s mind, parried and preserved the qualifying lead for his team.


El Arabi “locked” the qualification

Five minutes after Aris’ greatest moment, Olympiacos sealed their place in the Greek Cup semi-finals in a phase where Samasekou either looked to clear the ball or saw El Arabi unmolested on the left. The experienced Olympiakos striker found himself facing Questa and coolly sent the ball into the net (89′) making it 0-1. Everything basically ended there as Aris did not have the psychology to react and Olympiacos easily managed the score.

Doi of Olympiakos saw the red card and Fabiano (Aris), Biel (Olympiakos) saw the yellow card.

The MVP: Olympiacos largely owes the qualification to Tzolakis, who made terrible interventions and, of course, took the penalty in the 84th minute.

At his height: El Arabi found himself once against Cuesta and made no mistake while Samasekou did an excellent job in midfield. The same applies to Etebo, Darida but without rebuttal.

The “weak link”: Andre Gray trashed Aris’ best chance to open the scoring and that’s where everything changed.

The ‘blunder’: Gray’s penalty kick was disappointing to say the least, as was Doi’s reaction that led to the penalty.

The “stragali”: Hungarian Vand left the physical game and several markings. It is checked for the phase of the 59th minute where Aris asked for a penalty on a clear hand of Embilas in the area and correctly awarded (getting a check from the VAR) the penalty in the 84th minute

Gazzetta’s “cash box”: Aris were better than Olympiakos, in control of the match for most of its duration but Gray’s missed penalty essentially changed everything. Piraeus had a problem on the pitch but they have players with personality like El Arabi who once faced Questa and took advantage of it.

The compositions:

MARS (Alan Pardew): Cuesta, Mazikou, Fabiano, Brumbetz, Piersman, Etembo, Doukoure Darinda, Manu Garcia (75′ Luis Palma), Iturbe (80′ Mateo Garcia), Gray.

OLYMPIAN (Mitchell Gonzalez): Tzolakis, Rodinei, Papastathopoulos, Doi, Reaptsiuk, Embila, Samasekou, Masouras (70′ Gary Rodriguez), Biel (89′ Cisse), Bakabou (70′ El Arabi), Valbuena (61′ James Rodriguez)


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