Fresh PAOK loss ahead of clash with Benfica

By George Georgakopoulos

PAOK suffered yet another away loss in the Super League, allowing Olympiakos to open its gap at the top to an amazing 20 points. With nine games left to play the Reds need just eight points to clinch the title.

Four days ahead of its first leg clash with Benfica in the Europa League, PAOK lost for the fourth consecutive game on the road on Sunday, this time at Asteras Tripolis with a 2-1 score. Stefanos Athanasiadis gave PAOK the lead, but Dorin Goian and Juanma turned things around in Asteras’s favor.

Struggling Platanias made life difficult for Olympiakos in the first hour of the game at the Karaiskakis Stadium on Saturday, but the entry of evergreen playmaker Ariel Ibagaza on the 66th minute with the score at 1-1 made it look easy for the host.

Michael Olaitan gave Olympiakos the lead, David Torres equalized for the Hania club, but new signings Nelson Valdez, Hernan Perez and Ivan Marcano scored for the champions that conceded one more goal, to Panayiotis Vlachodimos (who actually belongs to Olympiakos and plays for Platanias on loan) for a 4-2 final score.

Third-placed Atromitos saw its unbeaten run of 17 games in league and cup come to an end at Livadia, where Vangelis Mantzios scored the encounter’s only goal to give Levadiakos a 1-0 home win on Saturday.

Panathinaikos imposed its game on host Panthrakikos at Komotini to win 2-0 on Sunday and stay fourth, one point ahead of Asteras Tripolis and five behind second-placed PAOK. On the debut of Croat striker Mladen Petric, Panathinaikos had Nikos Karelis and Abdul Ajagun on target.

Veria coach Ratko Dostanic saved his job for now as his side held on to snatch a goalless draw at desperate Aris on Sunday, in a result that keeps Aris bottom of the table, two points behind Veria and four behind Platanias.

The bottom two go straight down to the second division while the third from bottom will contest a play-off with the team to finish third in the Football League.

Panionios coach Constantinos Panagopoulos lost his job one day before the game with PAS Giannina, and the Nea Smyrni club promptly picked itself up to beat its visitor from Epirus 2-0. On Monday former Platanias manager Nikos Anastopoulos is expected to take over at Panionios.

In other weekend games Xanthi down Kalloni Lesvou 1-0 and Panetolikos remained unbeaten at home seeing off Apollon Smyrnis 2-1.

Monday sees the Iraklio derby between Ergotelis and OFI.