Panathinaikos inches closer to elusive title

Title-starved Panathinaikos, one of the country’s two biggest soccer clubs, took a solid step toward its first title in nearly a decade last night with a crucial 2-1 away victory against third-placed PAOK, an opponent widely viewed as the Athens club’s last major hurdle in the season’s close title race. The result maintained Panathinaikos’s two-point lead against archrival Olympiakos, winner of the last seven Greek league titles, three rounds before the finale. In its next three encounters, Panathinaikos will play the league’s three bottom-end sides, Paniliakos, Proodeftiki, and Akratitos, all desperate for points to avoid relegation to the second division. Panathinaikos went into yesterday’s Thessaloniki clash in search of victory following a 2-2 home draw against Olympiakos last weekend.