- Associated Press - Saturday, May 12, 2018

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Defending champion PAOK dominated AEK 2-0 in the Greek Cup final on Saturday then celebrated by donning masks bearing the likeness of banned team owner Ivan Savvidis.

Savvidis, a Russian-Greek businessman, was issued a three-year ban from games for storming the pitch at a PAOK-AEK game two months ago with a holstered pistol. PAOK was docked three points, contributing greatly to its loss of the Greek league championship to AEK.

PAOK ended the final with nine players. Mauricio was dismissed in the 80th minute for a hard foul, and Fernando Varela, after the second goal, for excessive celebration.

AEK’s Ognjen Vranjes was sent off seconds after Mauricio for going after Varela.

The decisions were made by Spanish referee David Borbalan, who was specially appointed along with two Spanish assistants by the Greek Football Federation following recent disputed referee decisions sparking violence at matches.

Borbalan’s performance was praised by several Greek sports commentators, but they also noted no Greek referee would have survived showing nine yellow and three red cards without being bullied by both teams.

There was still fan violence in and around the venue, Athens’ Olympic Stadium, despite the deployment of 5,000 police.

Near a train station close to the stadium, about 100 AEK fans forced five PAOK supporters out of a car and set fire to it. All five car passengers were beaten up and hospitalized with non-threatening injuries and all but one have checked out of the hospital.

In clashes between AEK, PAOK and Olympiakos hooligans late Friday and early Saturday, eight police officers were injured, police said. A fan was stabbed; it was not known which team he was a fan of.

To avoid clashes inside the arena, a total of 34,400 tickets were issued to both teams, slightly less than half the nearly 70,000 capacity. That did not prevent opposing fans from throwing flares at each other and attempting, ultimately unsuccessfully, to cut through barriers and attempt to break through cordons of riot police to get at each other.

Tear gas and stun grenades were used inside and outside the stadium, although not during the game itself.

Vieirinha scored in the 65th minute from a free kick, and Dimitris Pelkas added the second in injury time from close up off a precise left cross by Aleksandar Prijovic.

Prijovic made up for his penalty kick being blocked by AEK goalkeeper Vassilis Barkas in the first half.

“The best team won,” AEK chairman Dimitris Melissanidis conceded.

Three UEFA observers attended the final. International soccer authorities have threatened Greece with suspension - or “soccer Grexit” - from FIFA unless the federation, clubs, and the government’s sport ministry fulfill a list of promised reforms.


Costas Kantouris contributed to this report from Thessaloniki.

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