SOCCER

Panathinaikos beats PAOK, AEK loses at Volos

Aris ends regular season in second, 16 points behind leader Olympiakos

panathinaikos-beats-paok-aek-loses-at-volos

The regular season of the Super League ended on Sunday with Aris taking a clear advantage in the battle for the second spot in the upcoming playoffs, behind runaway leader Olympiakos, as both PAOK and AEK suffered road defeats.

With 10 rounds of playoff games looming, to involve the top six teams of the table, Olympiakos has maintained a 16point lead and needs just five wins in those matches to clinch its second title in a row.

On Sunday the Reds had a quite easy away win at bottom team Larissa with a 3-1 score, courtesy of goals by Ahmed Hassan, Thanassis Androutsos and Youssef El-Arabi. Marco Nunic scored Larissa’s consolation.

Aris had Kostas Mitroglou to thank for his early strike that gave it a 1-0 home win over struggling OFI that had manager Nikos Nioplias debut on its bench.

Volos beat third-placed AEK 1-0 at home through a Tasos Douvikas penalty kick, 10 days after the two teams met at the same stadium for the Cup, with the same result and the same scorer in the same way (from the penalty spot).

Panathinaikos regained the fifth spot and is looking up again after beating PAOK 2-1 in Athens in the day’s biggest game. The result hardly does any justice on PAOK that had more possession and chances, but the Greens were very efficient and scored late in the first half with Federico Macheda and on the 82nd with Fotis Ioannidis, before Michael Krmencik pulled one back for fourth-placed PAOK.

The result at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium means that Panathinaikos coach Laszlo Boloni is staying at the helm for now, and that the Greens have come within two points from PAOK and are three points ahead of Asteras Tripolis that suffered a 1-0 reverse at home to PAS Giannina.

The table and the points that the top six teams will carry over to the playoffs are as follows: Olympiakos 67 points, Aris 51, AEK 48, PAOK 47, Panathinaikos 45 and Asteras 42.

The battle for the playouts, to decide which team will be automatically relegation to the second division and which one will face a playoff with the Super League 2 runner-up, will have seven rounds of games and constitute a fierce battle involving eight teams, with four of them being in the thick of the relegation dogfight.

After Sunday’s games that also saw Apollon Smyrnis down Panetolikos 1-0 and Lamia share a goalless draw with Atromitos, the playouts’ mini-league begins with the table as follows: Volos 33 points, PAS Giannina 31, Atromitos 28, Apollon 28, Lamia 23, Panetolikos 20, OFI 19 and Larissa 16.