May 12, 2018 / 5:26 PM / 6 months ago

Soccer - PAOK beat AEK to win Greek Cup after crowd trouble mars final

ATHENS (Reuters) - Nine-man PAOK beat champions AEK Athens 2-0 to clinch the Greek Cup on Saturday after fans from both teams clashed with police outside the Olympic stadium ahead of the game.

Soccer Football - Greek Cup Final - AEK Athens vs PAOK Salonika - Athens Olympic Stadium, Athens, Greece - May 12, 2018 PAOK Salonika celebrate with the trophy after winning the Greek Cup REUTERS/Costas Baltas

Vierinha put them ahead with fine free kick in the 65th minute and Dimitris Pelkas added another in stoppage time to secure PAOK’s second consecutive final win against AEK, who played with 10 men for the last few minutes.

PAOK finished the game with nine men after Mauricio and Fernando Varela were sent off late in the game. AEK had Ognjen Vranjes dismissed following a second booking in the 80th.

Spaniard David Borbalan was picked to referee the game as the country faces a potential soccer ban from world governing body FIFA over the state of the sport.

Greek authorities deployed some 5,000 officers to safeguard the game, a repeat of last year’s final at which fans also clashed.

Police had to use tear gas to keep the fan groups apart after about 35,000 spectators began arriving at the stadium two hours ahead of kick-off. Fans threw stones and lit fires before police managed to contain the trouble.

A league match between the teams in March was abandoned after a controversial refereeing decision prompted the PAOK President to charge on to the pitch with a handgun in his belt.

This led to the suspension of the league for more than two weeks and a warning from world soccer’s governing body FIFA for Greece to reform immediately or risk being handed an international ban.

PAOK and their President Ivan Savvidis were subsequently also sanctioned and the team had points deducted, ending their title hopes.

Greece is also facing a potential international ban from FIFA, which will next month discuss the state of football in the country.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editin by Ed Osmond

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