T&T striker Levi Garcia and his AEK Athens complete the domestic double in the 2022/2023 Greece Football season when they blanked PAOK FC 2-0 final of the Greece Novibet Cup final at the Panthessaliko Stadium, Volos, on Wednesday.
The outcome was not as easy as the final scoreline would suggest though as from early as the sixth minute, recently crowned Greece Super League champions for the 13th time, AEK Athens was reduced to ten men when Lazaros Rato was shown a straight red card.
Despite being a man down, AEK Athens still went ahead in the 26th minute via Harold Moukoudi while Garcia was replaced in the 61st minute by Nordin Amrabat, with Paolo Fernandes adding an insurance item two minutes into time added-on, to seal a 2-0 triumph and a 16th Cup win, its first since the 2015/2016 season.
It was also the third Stoiximan Greece Super League and Novibet Cup double for AEK Athens to add to their previous sweeps in the 1938/1939 and 1977/1978 seasons.
Earlier this month, the 25-year-old Garcia and his teammates clinched a 13th domestic league crown with a 4-0 win over Volos FC on the final match day to end with 83 points, five ahead of Panathinaikos as both teams qualified for the European Champions League while last year’s champions Olympiacos finished in the third spot with 73 points and qualified to the UEFA Europa League while PAOK and Aris, the fourth and fifth-place finishers with 67 and 51 points respectively qualified for the UEFA Conference League with Volos FC sixth with 40 points.
The Santa Flora-born Garcia, who ended the season with 14 league goals, second in the ‘Golden Boot’ race to Olympiacos’ Cedric Bakambu of the Democratic Republic of Congo by four goals and is rumoured to be wanted by no fewer than 14 European clubs ahead of the summer transfer window led his past Olympiacos 4-2 on aggregate in their home-and-away semifinal, scoring a double in the first-leg 3-0 win.
Levi Garcia cops double: AEK Athens win Greek Cup.
By Narissa Fraser (T&T Newsday).
"THE best way to finish a great season."
This is how TT's Levi Garcia described the feeling of copping his second piece of silverware this season with AEK Athens after winning the Greek Cup on Wednesday.
On May 14, AEK Athens won the 2022/2023 Greek Super League title after defeating NFC Volos 4-0. Garcia provided an assist to teammate Orbelin Pineda, in the 59th minute, for the third goal.
In an interview with Newsday, he said while it has been a "massive season" for him, it was not yet over as the team was set to face PAOK in the Greek Cup final.
A ten-man AEK Athens secured a 2-0 victory.
AEK defender Lazaros Rota received a red card just six minutes into the match for a foul on PAOK midfielder Taison Barcellos Freda.
Garcia started but was subbed off in the 62nd minute for teammate Nordin Amrabat.
AEK's Harold Moukoudi opened the scoresheet in the 26th minute while Paolo Fernandes sealed the deal with the second goal in the first minute of added time.
The last time AEK Athens won this cup was in the 2015/2016 season and they have won it a total of 16 times.
In a post-match Facebook post, the team said it was their first time winning the Greek Super League and Greek Cup in the same season since 1978. Prior to then, this was only achieved in 1939.
The post said, "Matias Almeida (team manager) and his boys in the pantheon of our team's history. Third double after a huge course. Well done to each and every one. LONG LIVE AEK!"
In another post, it said, "With ten players from the sixth minute, with a goal by Mukundi at 26 minutes...a calm game until the end. With Fernandes's goal magic at 91 minutes, with style, with absolute excellence, with the best football, with a team full of class and quality, with the seal of a top coach – AEK-PAOK 2-0 and well deserved double for the best team in Greece!"
Garcia posted photos of himself holding the trophy on Facebook saying, "Proud to be a part of this team."