Olympiakos stumbles at Iraklis

Iraklis put a large wrench in the works of Olympiakos’s title-winning machine yesterday as the Thessaloniki side defeated the reigning champion 1-0, which slipped five points behind Panathinaikos at the top of the Super League. Having seen title rivals Panathinaikos and PAOK beat lesser opposition yesterday and Saturday respectively, there was great pressure on Olympiakos to produce a stirring performance at the Kaftantzogleio Stadium in Thessaloniki but the Piraeus team came up against a spirited Iraklis, whose goalkeeper Daniel Fernandes had an inspirational day. The on-loan Portuguese keeper was equal to everything that Olympiakos could throw at him in the second half, when the Reds had more than 70 percent of possession and created several chances. Iraklis took the lead in the eighth minute when defender Olof Mellberg tripped Daigo Kobayashi in the box. Bogdan Mara scored from the spot. The win moves the Thessaloniki side up to ninth place on 31 points and clear of relegation worries. The defeat means that Olympiakos remains on 53 points after 25 games, five behind Panathinaikos and three behind PAOK in second place. The Reds now need a win when they face Panathinaikos in two weeks’ time if they are to have a chance of retaining their title. On Saturday, PAOK had beaten bottom side Panthrakikos 3-0 thanks to goals from Greece international Stelios Malezas, French midfielder Olivier Sorlin and Brazilian left-back Lino. Yesterday, Panathinaikos beat lowly Levadiakos 3-0 in Athens. The Greens scored all their goals in a blistering 10-minute spell in the second half. A mixture of sloppy finishing, bad luck and desperate defending meant that the first goal did not come until the 65th minute, when Dimitris Salpigidis struck. Sebastian Leto added a second in the 72nd minute and Djibril Cisse got his customary goal at 75 minutes to ensure a two-point lead at the top of the Super League for coach Nikos Nioplias’s men.

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