NEWS

Zico hanging on at Olympiakos

Olympiakos coach Zico got to stay another day on the champion’s bench thanks to a tight 2-1 home win over Larissa yesterday that kept the Reds within five points of soccer Super League leader Panathinaikos. The Greens had beaten Xanthi 2-1 away on Saturday thanks to a brace by Djibril Cisse for their 14th win in 17 games in the league, with the French striker reaching 15 goals so far this season. It was always going to be a tricky game for Panathinaikos but the Greens made sure they did not drop any points now that they have a clear lead at the top of the table. Olympiakos returned to winning ways after two consecutive losses, downing a spirited Larissa through goals by Enzo Maresca and Luciano Galletti in the first half. Yet the jittery second half after Romeu Pereira dos Santos scored for Larissa led home fans to jeer their own players and above all Brazilian coach Zico, who is hanging on to his place on the Reds’ bench partly because his sacking would entail a reported 2-million-euro payout. PAOK, in third, maintained its chase for a top-two finish with a solid 2-0 win at Levadiakos, while the other two Thessaloniki teams played an entertaining derby that saw Aris defeat visiting Iraklis 4-2. AEK could not follow up its derby win over Olympiakos last Wednesday with another victory, as it drew 3-3 at home with Atromitos, to slip into sixth place. Now up in fifth is Asteras Tripolis, who downed Kavala 1-0 yesterday. In the other weekend games, PAS Yiannina defeated all-but-relegated Panthrakikos 2-1 away, while Ergotelis and Panionios remained goalless on Crete. Panathinaikos leads the table with 44 points, five ahead of Olympiakos and 10 ahead of PAOK. Aris remained in fourth with 28, Asteras has 26, AEK reached 25, Kavala and Panionios have 23, Ergotelis has 22 and Atromitos 20. These are followed by four teams with 18 points: Iraklis, Xanthi, Larissa and PAS Yiannina. Further down, Levadiakos has 15 points and Panthrakikos just two.