Crowd violence mars Panathinaikos win in Greek Cup final

·2 min read

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Crowd violence and tear gas marred the Greek Cup final where Panathinaikos made a first-half penalty hold up to beat PAOK 1-0 on Saturday.

Also, penalty-scorer Aitor Cantalapiedra was allegedly hit in the hand by a chunk of cement thrown from the crowd.

Only 43,000 tickets were sold for the 70,000-seat Athens Olympic Stadium to keep apart fans from both clubs. Despite that, Panathinaikos fans attempted before the final to get close to PAOK fans, and spilled onto the track around the field.

Riot police forced them back using tear gas, and PAOK supporters threw flares at the retreating Panathinaikos fans. The clashes and the air heavy with tear gas affected many fans, and caused a half-hour delay to the start of the final.

After Cantalapiedra converted the penalty in the 35th minute following a VAR check, he decided to celebrate in front of PAOK fans and was hit in the hand by a projectile. Panathinaikos said it was a chunk of cement.

Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz immediately suspended the final, which resumed 35 minutes later.

As the first half came to a close, it was the turn of PAOK fans to spill onto the track in an attempt to reach the opposing supporters, clashing with the police in the process, and causing the start of the second half to be pushed back even further.

Panathinaikos, which dominated the first half, defended its lead in the second without too much pressure from PAOK. The final ended more than three hours beyond its scheduled starting time, and Panathinaikos had its 19th Greek Cup trophy and first since 2014.

Clashes at Greek Cup finals have become commonplace, causing limited attendance. That did not deter Panathinaikos manager Ivan Jovanovic saying “it was important that we made the people happy.”

The win meant Panathinaikos will play in next season's Europa Conference League, starting in the third qualifying round, while PAOK will enter the second qualifying round.

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Demetris Nellas, The Associated Press

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