Panathinaikos retains lead

Polish striker Emmanuel Olisadebe struck twice and Nikos Lymberopoulos grabbed another goal yesterday as Panathinaikos defeated Aegaleo 3-0 at home to stay at the top of Greek soccer’s first division. Olympiakos beat Ionikos 2-0 away and remains in second place, three points behind its archrival. After 23 rounds, Panathinaikos has 54 points and Olympiakos 51. With two goals from Demis Nikolaidis, AEK hammered struggling Akratitos 6-2 to remain in third place with 47 points. In other results yesterday it was: Iraklis 3, Ioannina 0; Proodeftiki 0, PAOK 3, and Aris 1, OFI 1. On Saturday, Panionios beat Xanthi 1-0 away to stay in fourth place with 44 points, while league newcomer Kallithea defeated last-placed Panachaiki 3-1 in an important step toward staying in the first division. Playing at home before a sold-out crowd of 15,000, Panathinaikos went on the attack from kickoff but could not penetrate a well-organized Aegaleo defense. On three occasions, Aegaleo’s goalie Mahamadou Sidibe made key saves but was unable to stop Olisadebe scoring in the 43rd minute. The star striker headed in the ball off a cross from Finnish winger Joonas Kolkka. In a similar move involving the two players Thursday, Panathinaikos beat Porto 1-0 in Portugal in a first-leg quarterfinal UEFA Cup game. For the match against Aegaleo, Panathinaikos’s Uruguayan coach Sergio Markarian fielded the same team as the one in Portugal, except for Yiannis Goumas, who replaced flu-stricken defender Sotiris Kyriakos, and Romanian midfielder Erik Lincar who played instead of Jan Michaelsen. Aegaleo, which recently eliminated Panathinaikos from the Greek Cup, started the second half aggressively but it was Panathinaikos which scored again with Olisadebe’s seventh league goal of the season in the 60th. Seven minutes later, Lymberopoulos made the final score 3-0 off a center from Lincar. Three minutes before the final whistle, midfielder Angelos Basinas left the pitch on a stretcher with his thigh bandaged. It was not immediately clear whether the injury will sideline the playmaker from Thursday’s second-leg game against Porto. Ionikos resisted all Olympiakos attacks for 35 minutes until defender Giorgos Amanatidis headed in his team’s first goal off a corner from Predrag Djordjevic. Earlier, another header by Amanatidis sailed over Ionikos’s crossbar. In the 69th, Ghanaian forward Peter Oforiquaye picked up a deep ball from his keeper, Fanis Kateryiannakis, and dribbled past a defender before making the final score 2-0. Today, Olympiakos is expected to appeal against a decision by a sports judge ordering the club to play two home games away. The punishment was imposed for the attack by Olympiakos supporters on the president of AEK Athens, Yiannis Granitsas, during a home league game last week. In its game against AEK, lowly Akratitos did well in the first half, which ended with a respectable 2-2. But the second half was a one-team show with AEK scoring four goals, two of them from Nikolaidis. Vassilis Lakis, Ilja Ivic, Costas Katsouranis and Dimitris Nalitzis were AEK’s other scorers. Panayiotis Ziakas and Giorgos Barkoglou scored for the visitors. Yesterday’s match was the last league game played in AEK’s Nikos Goumas Stadium after some 73 years. A new stadium will be built on the same site and is expected to be ready shortly before the start of the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. (AP)

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