Panathinaikos hammers AEK

Just weeks after becoming his club’s youngest ever scorer and the second youngest in top-tier domestic soccer, 16-year-old Sotiris Ninis was in the spotlight again over the weekend, this time starring in Panathinaikos’s 4-1 away win over AEK on Sunday. Impressively, Ninis shone in the Super League’s biggest game in the round that brought together two rivals battling for the competition’s second spot and Champions League play next season. He scored a stylish goal and set up two others to help Panathinaikos overtake AEK in second place. The 4-1 victory took Panathinaikos to 45 points from 22 games in the 16-team Super League, two points ahead of third-placed AEK. Six police officers were hospitalized with slight injuries after stopping an attempted attack by disgruntled AEK fans on club president Demis Nikolaidis, who was seated in the VIP stands. The trouble, which started late in the game, also spread outside. Meanwhile, defending champion Olympiakos, the breakaway leader, beat visiting Atromitos, also 4-1, to retain a commanding 11-point lead in the standings with eight rounds of play remaining. A tight tussle is brewing below the league’s top three. Fourth-placed PAOK beat Thessaloniki rival Aris 1-0 on Saturday. PAOK is just 10 points above Iraklis, placed second from last. Highlighting the situation further, five points separate fifth-placed OFI from 14th-placed Apollon Kalamaria. Returning to Panathinaikos’s win, the visiting club charged forward from the kickoff, taking a 2-0 lead in the first eight minutes. Yiannis Goumas headed in a thundering long-range header from a corner delivered by Ninis in the third minute. Five minutes later, Ninis made it 2-0 with a low drive from the edge of the box. Dimitris Salpiggidis volleyed the ball into the top corner from outside the penalty box in the 23rd minute to stretch the lead to 3-0 before Andreas Ivanschitz made it 4-0 off a cross from Ninis in the 66th. Pantelis Kapetanos scored a consolation goal for AEK in the 89th minute. Also Sunday, it was: Iraklis 0, Ergotelis 1; OFI 2, Apollon 0; Kerkyra 0, Xanthi 0; and Larissa 1, Panionios 0. On Saturday, host Aegaleo defeated Ionikos 3-1.