Mediocre Reds capitalize on PAOK loss

By George Georgakopoulos

Olympiakos came from behind to beat Panetolikos 2-1 on Sunday on the debut of Paraguay striker Nelson Valdez, but its fans will have been worried by the poor showing of the team that later this month will have to raise its game to match Manchester United in the Champions League. It still stretched its gap at the top of the Super League to 14 points, as PAOK lost at Platanias.

Panetolikos went ahead after just five minutes through veteran striker Henri Camara, but Olympiakos equalized with Nigerian forward Michael Olaitan and won the game courtesy of a 71st-minute penalty by Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell, Arsenal’s loan to Olympiakos.

Valdez featured in the last half-hour of the game at the Karaiskakis Stadium, but had little impact on it.

PAOK dropped three more points losing 2-1 at Hania to Platanias that has climbed out of the bottom three. PAOK led via Stefanos Athanasiadis, with Platanias scoring against the run of play with Aleksandar Kataj and David Torres. PAOK manager Huub Stevens conceded after the game that his team did not deserve to win.

The most exciting game of the weekend took place at Rizoupoli, where third-placed Atromitos came twice from behind to beat host Apollon Smyrnis 3-2 and get to within five points from PAOK.

There were two superstars in Sunday’s away teams. The first was Dimitris Diamantakos of Ergotelis, who gifted his team an unlikely 1-0 win at Panionios with his late strike even though the Iraklio teams had just nine men on the pitch for the last 20 minutes of the game. This was Ergotelis’s first victory after 10 games.

That, however, pales in comparison with the feat of Giorgos Athanasiadis, the keeper of Panthrakikos’s Under-20 team. With experienced goallies Dino Seremet and Dimitris Koutsospyros sidelined, coach Akis Mantzios fielded new signing Alexandros Paschalakis in goal at Veria.

With barely four minutes on the clock Paschalakis got his marching orders though, for conceding a penalty in a clear goal-scoring chance for Veria. Mantzios was forced to bring on Athanasiadis and the 20-year-old promptly saved the penalty kick by Veria’s Ben El Fardou Mohamed. He followed this up with a string of other saves that denied the struggling hosts victory over the 10-man Komotini team, for a 0-0 result.

In other weekend games Panathinaikos drew 1-1 at OFI as its Viktor Klonaridis goal was cancelled out by a Ze Eduardo penalty four minutes from time; Asteras Tripolis saw off Kalloni Lesvou 2-0 at the Olympic Stadium of Athens, Aris drew 1-1 at home with Xanthi and PAS Giannina defeated visiting Levadiakos 2-1.