Salpingidis keeps PAOK alive in play-offs

By George Georgakopoulos

Dimitris Salpingidis salvaged a draw for PAOK at Panathinaikos on Sunday that keeps the Thessaloniki club tied on top of the play-off mini-league with the Greens as well as with Asteras Tripolis that defeated Atromitos at home.

Panathinaikos opened the score at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium in Athens 20 minutes into the game as a Diamantis Houhoumis free kick found Gordon Schildenfeld who headed the ball to the crossbar, before Mladen Petric got on the rebound to power the ball into the net.

Yet as the game went on PAOK became ever more dominant and six minutes from the end a Lino cross from the left passed by three Panathinaikos players across the goal to land on substitute Salpingidis’s feet and he slotted the ball home for 1-1.

The 300 visiting PAOK fans created mayhem just before kickoff as they tried to hurl objects and ripped-up seats first at the home supporters and then at the police that intervened and managed to contain them. Some Panathinaikos fans tried to storm the pitch to approach those of PAOK, and after the end of the game hey threw a couple of petrol bombs at the visiting fans.

All this meant a 25-minute delay to the start of the match, and that the experiment of hosting away fans in a Greek derby was a complete failure.

In the day’s other game Jeronimo Barrales scored for the second time in four days to give Asteras a 1-0 win in Tripoli over Atromitos, that has brought the Peloponnesians above the team from Peristeri.

The rather dull game at the Theodoros Kolokotronis Stadium was decided on the 66th minute, while Asteras played the last two minutes of injury time with 10 men due to the second yellow card shown to Guirane N’Daw. The Guinean midfielder was actually instructed by its coach to get sent off at the end of the game as he will now miss just one game, as his booking earlier in the game had taken his yellow-card tally to 13 and he would have got a longer suspension.

Panathinaikos, PAOK and Asteras now have four points each, with Atromitos on three. On Wednesday PAOK entertains Atromitos and Panathinaikos visits Asteras.