PAOK beats AEK 4-3, moves to first place

Three days after hammering Maccabi Haifa 4-0 in a UEFA Cup game, AEK suffered a 4-3 home defeat yesterday at the hands of PAOK in a match in Greek soccer’s first division. PAOK’s win, combined with a scoreless draw by Olympiakos against Aris, sent the Thessaloniki club to the top of the 16-team standings with 18 points, one ahead of Olympiakos, with nine of the 30 rounds completed. With a first-half goal by Ieroklis Stoltidis, Iraklis beat Proodeftiki 1-0 on Saturday and also has 18 points, but PAOK has a better goal difference. AEK’s and Olympiakos’s unfavorable results helped Panathinaikos move to fourth place with 16 points after a 1-0 home win over lowly Ioannina. Exploiting a weak AEK defense, PAOK took a comfortable 3-0 lead in the opening 30 minutes. Nikos Frousos began the scoring with a first-minute goal. AEK came close to equalizing when Vassilis Lakis’s shot in the 18th minute hit a post. In a deadly counterattack just seconds later, Cyprus striker Yiannakis Okkas made it 2-0 to PAOK and Vangelis Nastos stretched the lead to 3-0 in the 27th. AEK narrowed the difference, thanks to Costas Katsouranis in the 35th minute. In first-half injury time, Demis Nikolaidis converted a penalty to make it 3-2, after being brought down by keeper Radoslaw Majdan. As AEK fought to level the score, Okkas exploited a mistake by Costa Rican defender Mauricio Wright to give the visitors some breathing space at 4-2. Vassilis Borbokis, who replaced Bulgarian midfielder Milen Petkov in the 56th minute, scored the final goal with a header in the 76th to PAOK. Olympiakos attacked aggressively for long spells against Aris but failed to penetrate the hosts’ sturdy defense in Thessaloniki. Aris nearly scored in the 36th minute when keeper Dimitris Eleftheropoulos did well in saving a shot by Dutch midfielder Richard Knopper. Olympiakos launched one attack after another but missed several scoring chances. Their best opportunity came in the 69th when Christos Patsatzoglou’s shot sailed over the bar with goalie Christos Lampakis out of position and an open goal in front of him. In Athens, a blunder by Bulgarian goalkeeper Georgi Sheytanov, following a free kick by Angelos Basinas, earned Panathinaikos a much-needed 1-0 home win against Ioannina. On a wet and muddy pitch, Basinas’s ground-hugging free kick from 30 meters in the 45th slipped through Sheytanov’s hands. Panathinaikos almost made it 2-0 in the 56th minute when a header from Polish striker Emmanuel Olisadebe hit the crossbar. Ioannina, which fielded a defensive-minded squad, had its best scoring chance in second-half injury time when a free kick by Dusan Vidojevic from the edge of the box went just wide. In other action yesterday it was: Xanthi 5, Aegaleo 0; Ionikos 1, Akratitos 1; Kallithea 1, Panionios 1; OFI 3, Panachaiki 0. (AP)

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