Fouls and flares mar soccer derby

Olympiakos remains top of soccer’s Super League after a fractious derby against cross-town rivals Panathinaikos that was short on quality, but which resulted in 11 yellow cards. The draw leaves the Piraeus club on 20 points, one ahead of PAOK which beat Panionios 2-0 on Saturday. Panathinaikos is stuck in fifth place with 15 points. A bad-tempered first-half at the Olympic Stadium was littered with fouls and there was little in the way of good soccer for a sell-out crowd. Panathinaikos should have had a penalty in the 21st minute when striker Vangelis Mantzios was brought down by defender Avraam Papadopoulos but the referee waved play on. The second half also provided few moments of goalmouth action. Panathinaikos played better and created some decent chances but Olympiakos goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis proved equal to whatever the home side could throw at him. The game had to be interrupted for five minutes when flares thrown onto the running track around the pitch set fire to ticker tape and toilet roll that had been thrown a little earlier. Fans and TV viewers were treated to the surreal sight of a fire engine making its way around the pitch to put out the fire. The draw means that the other main title contender, AEK, remains six points adrift of top spot. The Athens club could only manage a 1-1 draw at Xanthi on Saturday. The side from northern Greece is proving a real force this season, as after nine games it occupies third place with 18 points. Fourth place is occupied by Cretan team Ergotelis, which beat Larissa 2-1 yesterday. Another notable result was Iraklis’s first victory of the season. The Thessaloniki side beat Levadiakos 1-0 at home. In the weekend’s other results it was: Panserraikos 1 OFI 2, Asteras Tripolis 0 Panthrakikos 0 and Thrasyvoulos 1 Aris 2.