PAOK muscles in on soccer title contest

The race for soccer’s Super League became a three-way contest yesterday after PAOK joined Olympiakos in second place thanks to a 2-1 win over leader Panathinaikos in Thessaloniki. PAOK took advantage of Olympiakos being held to a 1-1 draw at Ergotelis on Crete on Saturday to move onto 50 points with the Piraeus club. After suffering its second defeat in a week, Panathinaikos remains stuck on 52 points following 23 of the 30 games to be played this season. Uruguayan defender Pablo Garcia gave PAOK the lead at the Toumba Stadium with a clever free-kick at 60 minutes. The Super League’s top scorer Djibril Cisse equalized for the visitors in the 64th minute but just four minutes later substitute Zlatan Muslimovic made it 2-1 for PAOK with a skilful finish. Olympiakos could have joined Panathinaikos on 52 points but it threw away a 1-0 lead, which came courtesy of midfielder Vassilis Torosidis, allowing Ergotelis to equalize through Croatian striker Mario Budimir with just five minutes of regular time left. Also on Saturday, relegation-threatened Iraklis and Levadiakos drew 1-1, while in-form Kavala beat Xanthi 2-1. Yesterday, AEK took a significant step toward securing fourth spot after beating Aris 1-0 in Athens and extending its advantage over the fifth-placed Thessaloniki team to four points. Midfielder Pantelis Kafes scored the only goal of the game in the first minute of the second half and AEK held on for their third consecutive win, which is the first time they have managed that in the Super League this season. PAS Yiannina lost 3-2 to fellow struggler Panionios. Larissa suffered a major blow in its bid to escape relegation as it went down 2-0 at home to bottom side Panthrakikos. In yesterday’s other game, Asteras Tripolis held Atromitos to a 0-0 draw in Athens, despite playing the second half with only 10 men.

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