Olympiakos topples rival AEK

A well-placed header by prolific Serb striker Darko Kovacevic late in the game earned Olympiakos a 1-0 home win over AEK and top spot in the Superleague. The Piraeus soccer club went into the game in a euphoric mood following Wednesday night’s qualification to the Champions League’s Round of 16 with a 3-0 win over Germany’s Werder Bremen but trailing front-runner AEK by three points in the domestic league. The two teams both have 27 points after 12 rounds, or with slightly over a third of the season completed, but Olympiakos is first thanks to yesterday’s result. Athens team Panathinaikos, a 1-0 loser at crosstown Panionios on Saturday, follows the co-leaders three points behind. The 34-year-old Kovacevic, who moved to Olympiakos from Real Sociedad in the summer after a fruitful six-year tenure with the Spanish club, put away a header to the far post after connecting with a right-wing cross from defender Vassilis Torosidis eight minutes from time. Kovacevic, who has scored in all of Olympiakos’s home league matches this season, also headed in one of his team’s three goals against Werder in similar style. Fast, fluid and exciting with both sides enjoying large shares of the action, last night’s top-end clash did not end without incident. AEK goalkeeper Marcelo Moretto was sent off after shoving Olympiakos defender Tassos Pantos moments before the final whistle. Playing at Veria, newly promoted Asteras Tripolis, an impressive performer in its first ever season in top-tier league competition, was set back 1-0 by the struggling host. A rapid climber up the country’s soccer divisions in recent years, Asteras Tripolis is currently fourth in the Super League – and in contention for a UEFA Cup place. Cretan club OFI, struggling in the relegation zone, defeated visiting Iraklis 2-0. It was the midtable Thessaloniki side’s second successive defeat. In the round’s other games, it was: Atromitos-PAOK, 0-0; Aris-Xanthi, 2-0; Levadiakos-Ergotelis, 0-0; Apollon Kalamaria-Larissa, 1-1.