SOCCER

Olympiakos, PAOK start playoffs with victories

olympiakos-paok-start-playoffs-with-victories

Olympiakos is three wins away from retaining its Super League crown after defeating second-placed Aris on Sunday, but the big win of the day belonged to PAOK that dismissed AEK, as the 10-round playoffs kicked off.

The Reds shook off elimination from Europe by Arsenal three days earlier to beat Aris 1-0, despite being a man down for most of the match. Giorgos Massouras scored for the champion on 38 minutes, three before Kenny Lala left Olympiakos with 10 men.

Aris tried to equalized in the rest of the match, but it was in vain, as Olympiakos held on to open a seemingly unassailable 19-point gap at the top of the table.

PAOK has moved up to third, leapfrogging AEK by beating it 3-1 at home with a solid performance it had long waited for. Andrija Zifkovic scored a brace around Karol Swiderski’s goal, while Nelson Oliveira had equalized for AEK.

Panathinaikos led Asteras 2-0 at Tripoli up to the 83rd minute, through two Federico Macheda goals within as many minutes, but Luis Fernandez and Asteras keeper Nikos Papadopoulos snatched a point for Asteras, as Papadopoulos moved up to the Greens’ box and slotted the ball home on the seventh minute of time added-on for the final 2-2 score.

Olympiakos leads the playoffs table with 70 points, Aris has 51, PAOK 50, AEK 48, Panathinaikos 46 and Asteras 43.

In the playouts Lamia beat host Panetolikos 3-0, PAS Giannina downed Atromitos 1-0 and OFI grabbed a 0-0 draw at Volos, but it was bottom team Larissa that took a leap to safety with a 2-0 triumph at Apollon Smyrnis.