NEWS

Defending champ widens gap

A hat trick from Olympiakos captain Predrag Djordjevic steered the Super League’s defending champion to a 4-1 win over visiting Cretan soccer club OFI last night. The win increased the front-runner’s lead in the standings to eight points, 19 rounds into the 16-team competition. Going into the round of play as Olympiakos’s nearest challenger, AEK was held to a 1-1 draw, away, by struggling Thessaloniki club Iraklis. AEK traveled north in pursuit of victory to maintain the six-point gap separating it from Olympiakos ahead of their encounter next weekend. The Athens team looked set to achieve its objective when striker Nikos Lymberopoulos put AEK ahead just before the halftime break. The visiting Athens team, which dominated play, squandered several scoring opportunities before Iraklis equalized after 72 minutes with a goal from Argentinean striker Jose Esteban Herrera for the final 1-1 score. AEK now shares second spot with Panathinaikos, a 2-0 winner on Saturday over Panionios. Both clubs have 41 points. Leader Olympiakos sits comfortably ahead on 49 points. Otherwise, the situation is tight. A mere six points separate fourth-placed Aris from Ergotelis, second from last. Panathinaikos’s 2-0 win was highlighted by the scorer of the club’s second goal, Sotiris Ninis, who, at 16, became the Athens club’s youngest-ever scorer. Contrary to initial reports, the retired scoring machine Thomas Mavros, a leading domestic player throughout the 1970s, still holds the Greek league’s record as the youngest domestic player to have ever found the net. Mavros was a month younger than Ninis when he first scored in February 1971, playing for Panionios. In other games yesterday, it was: Atromitos – Kerkyra, 4-2; Xanthi – Apollon Kalamaria, 0-0; Ergotelis – PAOK, 0-0; and Ionikos – Aris, 0-1. On Saturday, Larissa beat Aegaleo 2-1.