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Olympiakos crowned champion in front of empty stands

By George Georgakopoulos

Olympiakos has mathematically clinched its 41st Greek league title, and the 16th in the last 18 years, after beating Panthrakikos at home on Saturday, while Aris looks all but relegated after drawing with PAOK in a tense Thessaloniki derby on Sunday.

Four days before its return match with Manchester United for the Champions League, with Olympiakos holding a 2-0 advantage from the first leg, the Reds beat Panthrakikos 2-0 and have won the league after opening an 18-point gap from Atromitos and PAOK with five games left to play.

There was, however, no celebration at the stands of the Karaiskakis Stadium for the victory or the goals by Nelson Valdez and David Fuster, as the game took place without the presence of fans due to the stadium ban imposed on Olympiakos for the behavior of its supporters during the derby loss to Panathinaikos two weeks earlier.

Aris and PAOK shared a 1-1 draw at the Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium, in a game marred by unsportsmanlike behavior by the players, mostly by the host, and a particularly poor officiating by the referee. Aris led with an Andreas Tattos free kick and PAOK equalized through a Charalambos Economopoulos own goal.

PAOK spent the whole of the second half with 10 men after the straight red card shown to Ergys Kace, but parity was restored toward the end when Aris’s David Aganzo got his marching orders.

The result means that Aris will likely be the second major club in Greek soccer, after AEK, that will be missing from the Super League next season, as the Thessaloniki team is languishing at the bottom of the table, eight points from the play-out spot.

If Aris is relegated, it is not at all certain it will feature in next season’s second division, as it may well follow AEK’s course down to the amateur divisions due to heavy debts.

On the other half of the table, Atromitos remains level on points with PAOK in second by drawing 1-1 at Veria on Saturday, with fourth-placed Panathinaikos edging closer to them, within three points, via its 1-0 victory at PAS Giannina on Sunday. That was the Greens’ third consecutive league win, and they have Abdul Ajagun to thank for his goal in a performance that was not a patch on their showings against Olympiakos and Aris.

The result means Panathinaikos is returning to European competitions this summer after a year’s absence, as it mathematically clinched a play-off position – provided it also gets the federation’s license for that at the end of the month.

Ergotelis ended the unbeaten home record of Asteras Tripolis winning 3-2 through a 90th-minute penalty despite playing with 10 men for 25 minutes.

Platanias scored the win of the day, thrashing 10-man Kalloni Lesvou 7-0 at Hania, while Panionios edged closer to safety through its 4-2 defeat of visiting Levadiakos.

OFI Crete, in sixth, emerged victorious with a 2-0 score from its clash with struggling Apollon.

On Monday Panetolikos entertains Xanthi.

ekathimerini.com , Sunday March 16, 2014 (22:42)  
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