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Everything to play for in relegation dogfight

Apollon’s injury-time winning goal sparked frenzied celebrations by the players of Lawrie Sanchez.

By George Georgakopoulos

The team to follow Aris to the second division and the one to face a relegation play-off with a Football League side will only be determined in the last round of games of the Super League, as the penultimate one on Sunday shed little light to the conclusion of the relegation dogfight.

The late winners by OFI over Xanthi (3-2) and by Apollon over Ergotelis (1-0) meant that Apollon stayed out of the bottom three, where Xanthi and Veria – victor of Panionios at home with a 2-1 score – now reside with 35 points. Apollon has 36 and Platanias 37 thanks to its 1-0 triumph over visiting Panetolikos.

Panionios is not yet out of trouble either as it has 38 points, but a draw at home in the last round against Platanias will make the historic Nea Smyrni club safe. Xanthi and Veria play at home, facing Panathinaikos and Asteras Tripolis respectively, while Apollon travels across the capital to Olympiakos.

Xanthi led 1-0 and 2-1 at OFI, but two goals by the Cretan team brought it alone at the sixth spot and Xanthi to the drop zone. Apollon’s win was even more dramatic, as the Giorgos Delizisis goal came a few seconds past the injury time indicated by the referee.

Champion Olympiakos was once again defeated on the road, going down 2-0 at PAS Giannina. The result means nothing for the team that has already won the league by some distance, but when the hitherto unbeaten champion suddenly starts losing everywhere to suffer four losses in seven games, there must be something wrong.

PAOK will finish second, after beating Atromitos 2-0 with goals by Dimitris Salpingidis and Bibras Natkho, while Panathinaikos will end up third unless it loses at Xanthi next Sunday, following its 3-1 home win over Levadiakos. Giorgos Koutroubis, Nikos Karelis and Mehdi Abeid were on target for Panathinaikos, while Emmanuel Kone had equalized for the visitors.

PAOK, Panathinaikos and Atromitos will be involved in the Champions League playoffs, along with Asteras Tripolis, who drew 2-2 at home with Aris.

As for Kalloni Lesvou, it beat Panthrakikos 2-0 at the Olympic Stadium of Athens and has secured top flight soccer for a second season, hoping that next year it will get the chance to play its home gains on Lesvos.

ekathimerini.com , Sunday April 6, 2014 (21:30)  
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