Panathinaikos increases lead despite draw with Panionios

A second-half injury-time goal by Costas Katsouranis gave AEK a 2-1 away win Sunday over Olympiakos and prevented the Piraeus club from regaining the lead of Greek soccer’s first division. League leader Panathinaikos played to a scoreless away draw against Panionios. But Olympiakos’s loss helped the Athens squad increase its lead to three points in the 16-team division. Panathinaikos now has 51 points and Olympiakos 48, both from 22 games. AEK retains third place with 44 points. With the tie, Panionios spoiled Panathinaikos’s streak of 10 consecutive league wins. Likewise, Olympiakos’s loss ended four straight victories for newly hired Ukrainian coach Oleg Protasov. In other games Sunday it was: Aegaleo 2, Ioannina 1; Akratitos 2, Proodeftiki 1; Kallithea 0, Aris 2, and PAOK 0, Iraklis 1. On Saturday, Xanthi beat Panachaiki 2-0 away, while OFI’s evening match against Ionikos was suspended in the 71st minute due to a power failure. The score at the time was 1-1. Before the start of Panionios’s game against Panathinaikos, visiting supporters damaged over 10 parked cars outside the stadium. No injuries or arrests were reported. On the field, the two Athens clubs played a lackluster game with both teams primarily taking care of their defenses and making sporadic attacks. A header by Yiannis Goumas scraped Panionios keeper Jaroslav Drobny’s left post in the 45th minute. It turned out to be the closest scoring opportunity of the game. Seeking to keep its league top spot, which it took from Olympiakos two months ago, Panathinaikos launched continued attacks in the last 10 minutes of the second half, but the hosts’ defense worked well. Aiming to take advantage of Panathinaikos’s draw, Olympiakos charged forward against AEK from the start. But it was AEK who nearly opened the scoring in the fourth minute when Demis Nikolaidis’s shot from less than one meter away from keeper Fanis Kateryiannakis went across the goal mouth. A ground-hugging right-foot drive by Olympiakos’s Swedish midfielder Par Zetterberg in the 20th also went wide as did a powerful header from teammate Stelios Yiannacopoulos two minutes later. In a counterattack by AEK in the 32nd minute, Nikolaidis gave his team the lead with a header off a center from Vassilis Borbokis. Olympiakos, playing without suspended French midfielder Christian Karembeu and injured Brazilian striker Giovanni, tried desperately to level but found it hard to penetrate a sturdy AEK defense headed by keeper Dionysis Chiotis. The equalizer finally came in the 70th from Yiannacopoulos who netted his 12th goal of the season off a cross from Paraskevas Antzas. The rest of the game saw Olympiakos’s Kateryiannakis making a string of saves until the very last minute of second-half injury time when Katsouranis grabbed the winner with a shot from the edge of the box. (AP)

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