SPORTS

Berg settles derby of two halves for Panathinaikos

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Soccer

Marcus Berg scored a brace to lead Panathinaikos to another derby win on Sunday, as the Greens beat AEK 3-2 away, while Olympiakos returned to winning ways as it came from behind to beat Platanias on Saturday.

In its next game after beating Olympiakos, fourth-placed Panathinaikos won a classic derby with its Athens rival at the Olympic Stadium of Athens in what was the very stereotype of “a game of two halves”.

The Greens were excellent in the first half, scoring through Viktor Klonaridis and Berg, as AEK was nowhere to be seen in the first 45 minutes. Half-time supersubs Lazaros Christodoulopoulos (from the penalty spot) and Tomas Pekhart scored to bring AEK back on level terms, but a great cross from the left by Robin Lod picked Berg in the box and he tapped the ball home. His 20th league goal of the season claimed all three points for Panathinaikos, that played a very bad 35 minutes after the interval against a considerably improved AEK.

“It was a great win with a stupid performance,” said a relieved Panathinaikos manager Marinos Ouzounidis, still unable to explain how his team surrendered its first-half lead.

Olympiakos had Takis Lemonis for the first time on its bench and saw his likely champions trail 1-0 at home at half-time to a Giorgos Manoussos penalty, before Marko Marin and Alaixys Romao restored the order and gave the league leader a 2-1 victory. The reds require two wins in four games to claim the title.

Second Panionios remained six points off the pace with its 2-1 win over Atromitos in the “small Athens derby”, goals coming from Giorgos Masouras and Mohamed Ben (Nicolas Diguiny pulled one back for Atromitos), and PAOK is two points further adrift after seeing off visiting Larissa 2-0 courtesy of goals from Jose Alberto Canas and Stelios Kitsiou.

Levadiakos and Iraklis scored precious victories in their effort to avoid the drop. Levadiakos downed bottom team Veria 3-1, while Iraklis returned from Corfu with a 3-0 win over Kerkyra. Levadiakos is now on 22 points, Iraklis has 19 and Veria 16, with the bottom two going down. On Wednesday Iraklis hosts Levadiakos.

Asteras Tripolis is not out of the woods yet either, but moved up to 23 points snatching a 1-1 draw at Panetolikos. PAS Giannina scored an injury-time equalizer to deny Xanthi a win at Ioannina (1-1).

The Super League will change considerably as of next year. On Wednesday the 16 teams comprising it decided to introduce title and relegation play-offs from next season and the reduction of the top-flight teams to 14 from the 2018-19 season.

Therefore after the end of the regular season the first six teams will go on to play a round-robin mini-league carrying along all of their points from the regular season. The bottom team will go straight to the second division while the two teams just above it along with the runner-up of the second division will form a three-team play-out group that will fight it out for the two remaining places in the Super League.

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