AEK is responsible Olympiakos’s first league loss this season after a very eventful derby, while Iraklis created more misery for out-of-form PAOK with an away win in the Thessaloniki derby.
The match at the Olympic Stadium of Athens on Saturday had some 45,000 AEK fans, one goal, three red cards, a saved penalty and plenty of aggravation, but the clear protagonist was the referee. He showed two controversial red cards to Olympiakos players Alberto Botia and Luka Milivojevic and awarded AEK a second-half penalty for a handball that television replays showed it never was, after denying AEK a penalty kick in the first half.
Olympiakos goalkeeper Roberto parried Diego Buonanotte’s spot kick, but Ronald Vargas grabbed the rebound to tuck the ball in.
The nine players of Olympiakos tried to avoid defeat, AEK was reduced to 10 men after the red card shown to Rodrigo Gallo, but the final result was 1-0, for AEK’s first big win after its relegation three years ago and its languishing in the lower divisions for two seasons.
As usual, the derby was followed by angry statements from both clubs, with a senior Olympiakos official saying that he wishes the two sides meet again in the Cup to settle their scores...
The result of course has little bearing on the standings, as it has merely cut the distance between leader Olympiakos and second-placed AEK to 16 points, with eight games left to play.
Panathinaikos, in third, recovered from two defeats in league and cup to beat PAS Giannina 3-0 on the road on Sunday, despite playing with 10 men from the first half. Marcus Berg scored two goals after Panayiotis Vlachodimos opened the score on his Panathinaikos league debut.
Iraklis earned the Thessaloniki bragging rights with its 1-0 triumph at Toumba on Sunday thanks to a Leozinho strike that has taken his club to the eighth spot. As for PAOK, that has dropped to fifth, the countdown has started for its manager Igor Tudor.
Panionios, in fourth, failed to beat all-but-relegated Kalloni on Lesvos, drawing 1-1, while the other relegation-threatened club, Panthrakikos suffered a 2-0 home reverse to Platanias.
In other weekend games Atromitos drew 0-0 with Veria and Panetolikos downed Levadiakos 2-0.
On Monday Xanthi hosts Asteras Tripolis.