SPORTS

PAOK beats Atromitos to stay close to Panathinaikos

By George Georgakopoulos

Two deadly crosses by Lino and a penalty save in injury time by Panayiotis Glykos kept PAOK in the running for a spot in next season’s Champions League qualifiers with its 2-1 win at Atromitos, although the Thessaloniki club remained three points behind Panathinaikos that saw off Asteras Tripolis 1-0 at home.

The first home defeat for Atromitos this season meant that it cannot reach the top spot in the Super League play-off mini-table anymore.

Atromitos led on the 37th through a Stathis Tavlaridis header, but PAOK came back in the second half, as it has done time and again this season, through a Dimitris Salpingidis equalizer that was identical to the goal he scored a week earlier at Panathinaikos, and a Stefanos Athanasiadis tap-in from close range. Both goals derived from Lino’s assists from the left flank.

In the 90th minute Giorgos Tzavellas left PAOK with 10 men with his second yellow card and a minute later PAOK conceded a penalty, but its keeper, Glykos denied Dimitris Papadopoulos, forcing Atromitos’s first missed spot kick this season.

After winning the Cup for Panathinaikos, Sweden striker Marcus Berg is also leading the Greens to triumphing at the play-offs, as his goal on Sunday gave the host at the Apostolos Nikolaidis a second win over Asteras in four days.

Panathinaikos dominated play and deservedly led six minutes into the second half when Berg headed in a cross from the right, although the Swedish appeared to have fouled Asteras defender Giorgos Zisopoulos in the process.

The Greens have 10 points after four games in the play-offs. PAOK is on seven, Asteras on four and Atromitos on three.

On Wednesday Panathinaikos hosts Atromitos and PAOK travels to Asteras. If Panathinaikos betters PAOK’s result on the day it will have clinched the top spot that will send it to the third qualifying round of the Champions League this summer.

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