Rivals draw; AEK back on top

Olympiakos and visiting crosstown archrival Panathinaikos, now second and third, respectively, in the Super League, drew 1-1 last night in an outcome that helped AEK regain top spot. The pair meets again this Wednesday, once again at Olympiakos’s Karaiskaki Stadium, in a fifth-round cup game for a place in the quarterfinals. AEK, a 5-1 winner over Veria on Saturday, leads with 36 points from 16 games, just over the season’s half-way mark. Olympiakos trails a point behind and Panathinaikos is third on 34 points. Both Olympiakos and Panathinaikos, which went into the second half locked at 1-1, squandered several chances to take the lead. The visitors, however, did look the more dangerous side. Senegalese summer signing Dame N’Doye, whose number of appearances this season has been limited by nagging injury, settled quickly to silence the packed Karaiskaki Stadium in the 15th minute with a delicate strike from just inside the box to give Panathinaikos the lead. But moments before half-time, Olympiakos leveled when central defender Paraskevas Antzas, up front for a corner kick, tapped in from close range following a goal-mouth scramble. On Saturday, a rejuvenated AEK handed Veria a 5-1 thrashing as remedy for a low-spirited week caused by successive losses against Asteras Tripolis, in the league, and Xanthi in the Greek cup. Also Saturday, fifth-placed Aris earned a convincing and valuable 3-0 away win at mid-table Panionios. Newly promoted Asteras Tripolis remained fourth, courtesy of a late equalizer, two minutes from time, at Larissa for a 1-1 draw. In the round’s other games, it was: Apollon Kalamaria-OFI, 1-1; Levadiakos-Atromitos, 2-1; PAOK-Xanthi, 0-1; Ergotelis-Iraklis, 1-0.