SPORTS

AEK Athens beats Xanthi 2-0 to go to top of the first division

Substitutes Grzegorz Mielcarski and Christos Maladenis grabbed a goal each to give AEK Athens a 2-0 victory over Xanthi yesterday and take the lead in Greece’s first division soccer league. Olympiakos, the defending champion, fought to a 1-1 draw with PAOK in Thessaloniki later yesterday. With seven points, the Piraeus team is now in second place, two points behind AEK. Minor clashes marred a game between Panionios Athens and OFI Crete at the Nea Smyrni stadium. Home fans clashed with riot police when the referee expelled a Panionios player for a harsh foul. In the round’s upset, Panathinaikos Athens made a disappointing appearance Saturday and played to a scoreless draw against newcomer Akratitos. It was the second time in three rounds that Panathinaikos dropped points to inferior teams. In the season’s kickoff last month, it drew 2-2 against Panionios. Panathinaikos, leading Group C in the Champions League with three wins and nine points, retained third place in the 14-team Greek standings with five points. In other action yesterday it was: Panionios 1, OFI 1; Panachaiki 0, Ethnikos Asteras 0; Ionikos 1, Iraklis 1; Aegaleo 0, Aris 0. AEK appeared disorganized and out of focus for the first 36 minutes of its game against Xanthi at the Nikos Goumas stadium. AEK’s Portuguese coach Fernando Santos sent in Maladenis and Mielcarski in place of Nikos Georgeas and Sotiris Constantinidis. The move was successful and Mielcarski opened the scoring off a pass from captain Theo Zagorakis in the 57th. Maladenis made the final 2-0 off a perfect pass from Vassilis Tsartas in the 82nd. The visitors’ best scoring chance came in the 75th when keeper Dionissis Chiotis made a key save to a powerful shot from Austrian striker Juergen Leitner. Panathinaikos played at Akratitos’s home ground in the Athens suburb of Nea Liosia on Saturday, and controlled the match throughout. But Akratitos’s defense-minded lineup and Panathinaikos’s poor coordination produced the scoreless draw. With such a performance we couldn’t expect anything better, said Panathinaikos’s coach Yiannis Kyrastas. The visitors came close to opening the scoring on four occasions in the first half. But their shots went wide or were saved by the hosts’ excellent Lithuanian keeper, Gintaras Stauce. Croatian striker Goran Vlaovic missed the game’s best opportunity in the 34th when he headed the ball wide three meters from the goalmouth. Kyrastas threw in Emmanuel Olisadebe as third striker in the second period, but without any result. Akratitos, which moved to the first division for the first time in its 63-year-old history, launched several counterattacks toward the end of the match, but they never threatened goalie Antonis Nikopolidis. (AP)