Larissa holds Olympiakos to 1-1
PAOK and Panathinaikos gained some ground over the weekend over the rest of the soccer table toppers, as leader Olympiakos dropped two points at Larissa and Aris drew with AEK in Thessaloniki. Olympiakos had not won at Larissa since 1987 and stuck to that tradition with a 1-1 draw at the Alkazar Stadium on Saturday. With one eye on the upcoming crucial UEFA Cup tie that the Reds will play on Thursday at home against Hertha Berlin, they were second-best during the first half but got away with it. They actually took the lead at the 52nd minute courtesy of a Fernando Belluschi strike. The answer to the Argentine’s goal came from a Peruvian at the 74th minute; star midfielder Nolberto Solano put Larissa on level terms with a memorable goal, only to get sent off for a second bookable offence as he lifted his shirt over his head. The red card created some nasty scenes on and off the field, with Larissa players mobbing the referee and five journalists getting attacked in their press boxes. PAOK was superior to Xanthi but could not get past its excellent goalkeeper, Michael Gspurning, until Ibrahima Bakayoko capitalized on a defensive error in the 62nd minute to score the game’s only goal, taking PAOK to within four points of the top. Panathinaikos received its first penalty of the season on Sunday, Dimitris Salpigidis converted it at the end of the first half and two more goals from Silva Cleyton and Ante Rukavina completed the club’s 3-0 win over Panserraikos in Athens. After the game, the winners’ coach, Henk ten Cate, thanked «the Greek gods for the penalty» that his team has finally been awarded. Aris and AEK shared a very entertaining 1-1 draw in Thessaloniki. Toni Clavo scored for another week to give Aris a first-half lead but Edinho salvaged a point for AEK for its ninth draw in 14 games. Panionios and OFI scored important 3-1 away wins over their crosstown rivals Thrasyvoulos and Ergotelis, respectively, while Iraklis upset Asteras with a 2-1 win in Tripolis. Finally, Levadiakos defeated Panthrakikos 2-0 with a Leonardo brace. Olympiakos leads the table with 33 points from 14 games. PAOK is second with 29, while Panathinaikos has 26. Aris is now alone in fourth place with 22 and AEK caught up with Xanthi at 21. Ergotelis remains at 19 as Panthrakikos, Larissa and Panionios have 18. Levadiakos (16) and Iraklis (15) moved above Asteras Tripolis which is stuck at 14 points, The drop zone includes OFI at 11, Panserraikos at nine and Thrasyvoulos at eight.