SL2 22/23: Athens Kallithea 2-1 Ierapetra

After falling behind in the first half at El Paso on Monday afternoon, AKFC would keep their cool and steadily ramp up the pressure on Cretan visitors Ierapetra until the dam finally broke seven minutes from time, as Panagiotis Kynigopoulos and Giannis Loukinas struck two late goals just two minutes apart for a thrilling 2-1 comeback victory in Matchday 3 of the 2022/23 Super League 2 season.

AKFC have now won five out of five competitive matches between league and cup on the year.

From the start, Ierapetra looked threatening on the counter, and they would take the lead in the 17th minute, when Argentinian winger Faustino Dettler penetrated the area and put a looping cross in front of goal for Ivorian striker Patrick Vouho to head in his third goal of the season.

In response, AKFC patiently stuck to their approach, and they would dominate the ball for the rest of the first half with around 65 percent possession, but Ierapetra proved difficult to break down. In the 32nd minute, Demethryus slipped a ball in behind the defense for Loukinas, but ‘keeper Ilias Kyritsis did well to come off his line and cut down the angle to make a save, and the visitors would hold their advantage going into half-time.

After the break, AKFC would hit another gear, and in the 50th minute they looked to have pulled level when Loukinas swept in the rebound on a shot from Nili, but the goal was called back as Loukinas was adjudged to be in an offside position, through replays would eventually show he was onside.

AKFC manager Leonidas Vokolos had brought on lively right-back Georgios Manthatis at half-time, and as time ticked on he introduced attacking midfielder Athanasios Kostanasios in the 72nd minute. Ierapetra were under siege, but a breakthrough was needed, and ultimately Kostanasios and Manthatis would combine to provide it.

In the 83rd minute, when Kostanasios had a cross blocked at the byline on the right side, he intelligently kept the ball from going out and laid it off to Manthatis, who whipped a pinpoint cross into the box for Kynigopoulos to head in the equalizer.

And just two minutes later, AKFC were in front. After Michalis Kyrgias won the ball at the back, substitute Konstantinos Bouloulis collected and picked out Kostanasios on the right side of midfield, who played it forward to a streaking Omar Santana. On his turn to goal, Santana played a sublime curling ball in between the center-back and right-back, and the veteran Loukinas finished with aplomb, timing his jump perfectly and applying a cushioned header past the ‘keeper.

It was an exhilarating 120 seconds that brought wild celebrations, but AKFC quickly came down from their high and remained composed for the final five minutes to secure the result.

Next up, AKFC will play away to Kifisia on Monday 28 November at 15:15 EET in Matchday 4 of the 2022/23 Super League 2 season.

Athens Kallithea (4-3-3): Strezos, Rentzas (45’ Manthatis), Kyrgias, Evaggelou, Rossi, Santana (89’ Koltsidas), Tsintonis (78’ Bouloulis), Demethryus (89’ Natsis), Nili (72’ Kostanasios), Kynigopoulos, Loukinas