NEWS

Olympiakos first but leaves it late

A late goal from young striker Costas Mitroglou kept defending champions Olympiakos in the Super League’s lead with two rounds of play remaining following a 2-1 home win over Larissa. The hosts staged a comeback – from a one-goal deficit incurred late in the first half – for a victory that increased the front-runner’s lead from one to two points. AEK, a previous leader for the season’s greater part, remained a title contender with a 3-1 win at home against relegation-threatened Cretan club Ergotelis that lifted the Athens club from third to second in place of Panathinaikos, whose title hopes were severely damaged by a 4-1 thrashing at OFI Crete. Larissa, in search of points to secure a playoff berth reserved for second to fifth places, took a 41st-minute lead against Olympiakos when Turkish midfielder Tumer Metin unleashed a volley past keeper Antonis Nikopolidis. Olympiakos, more vibrant following the break, equalized in the 50th minute when Slovenian midfielder Mirnes Sisic, unmarked slightly inside the box, took quick control of a cross and drove into the net. Both sides, reduced to 10 men each, missed chances to take the lead until Olympiakos scored in the final minute of regular time when young striker Costas Mitroglou connected with a Leonardo cross. Olympiakos leads the Super League’s standings with 64 points from 28 games. AEK lies second two points behind and Panathinaikos is now third on 60 points. Three of the league’s five clubs battling to avoid the three-team relegation zone picked up points to keep affairs unsettled at the bottom end. Veria drew 2-2 at Panionios but slipped a notch to last. Apollon Kalamaria rose to second-last with a late goal for a 1-0 home win over Xanthi. Levadiakos stayed 14th in the 16-team league with a 2-0 win against visiting PAOK but narrowed the gap separating it from Ergotelis and Atromitos, both losers yesterday. Newly promoted Asteras Tripolis continued its impressive first season in the big league with a 2-0 win at Atromitos that bolstered its hold on fifth place. Sixth-placed Panionios lies five points behind Asteras. In the round’s other game, Thessaloniki rivals Aris and Iraklis drew 2-2.