SPORTS

Panathinaikos knocks PAOK off the Super League top

GEORGE GEORGAKOPOULOS

TAGS: Soccer

Panathinaikos beat PAOK 2-0 in Athens on Sunday and brought the champion down from the top spot where Olympiakos has returned as the Super League unfolds in a particularly exciting fashion despite the behind-the-scenes war between the two title rivals.

The Greens satisfied their 25,000 fans at the stands as they not only held PAOK scoreless for the first time after 70 league games, but also scored twice in the first 11 minutes of the second half, through a Federico Macheda penalty kick and a Tasos Hatziyiovanis strike.

What appeared some six weeks into the season as unlikely, i.e. that Panathinaikos would make the top-six who enter the league title playoffs, is now a near certainty, as the Greens need just a win in the four remaining games of the regular season to do that. They currently lie fourth after their fifth consecutive league win, while PAOK has dropped two points behind Olympiakos.

The Reds had no problems against Xanthi, beating the Thrace team 3-1 in Piraeus on Saturday courtesy of goals by Hilal Soudani, Youssef El-Arabi and and own goal Vassilis Fassidis. Xanthi pulled one back via Matias Castro.

Third-placed AEK is 11 points off the pace after beating host Atromitos via a bullet header from Nenad Krsticic, who also got sent off in injury time.

Aris will likely end up fifth in the regular season after a 2-0 home win over bottom team Panionios. OFI and Larissa shared a goalless draw and Volos returned to winning ways send Lamia down to 12th with its 1-0 victory.

Asteras Tripolis left it very late, but managed to beat visiting Panetolikos 2-1 in time added on to climb out of the bottom three for the first time this season.

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