NEWS

Olympiakos back in title hunt

The race for soccer’s Super League title has been blown wide open after leader Panathinaikos suffered a shock home defeat to Kavala as Olympiakos won away at Asteras Tripolis, to reduce the gap between the two fierce rivals to just three points. For the last few weeks, it seemed that PAO was destined to break Olympiakos’s stranglehold on the championship but the point difference separating the two has gradually been whittled down and the Piraeus club is now within touching distance. This was made possible by a superb performance at the Olympic Stadium on Sunday by Kavala. The side from northern Greece, which lies seventh in the Super League, has upset most of Greece’s big clubs this season but few had been expecting anything other than a Panathinaikos win this weekend. Instead, Polish striker Ebi Smolarek helped Kavala upset the odds with two second-half goals as the visitors won 2-0. It was Kavala’s first ever away win over Panathinaikos in top-flight soccer. It was also the first league defeat for PAO coach Nikos Nioplias since he took over 12 matches earlier. Nioplias attempted to rally his players at training yesterday. According to reports, he emphasized that the title is still in their hands. PAO is first on 52 points after 22 games but Olympiakos moved onto 49 after a convincing 3-1 win at Asteras Tripolis. Striker Lomana LuaLua, in his second spell with the Reds, proved the difference as his two exquisite finishes set the reigning champion on its way to picking up three points. Olympiakos will be hoping that Panathinaikos drops more points this coming Sunday, when it takes on third-place PAOK in Thessaloniki. PAOK is on 47 points and has an outside chance of the title after a 1-0 win at PAS Yiannina on Saturday. AEK is fourth after beating Panthrakikos 2-1. Aris is fifth after USA international Freddy Adu scored his first goal in Greek soccer in a 2-1 win over Ergotelis. At the bottom end of the table, Levadiakos drew 1-1 with Atromitos, 10-man Iraklis held Panionios to a 0-0 draw and Larissa won 1-0 at Xanthi.