PAOK bounced back to the top of the Super League playoff mini-table on May 18 by beating AEK 2-1 in Thessaloniki, while Panathinaikos returned to the frame of the battle for the top spot that leads to the Champions League with a 3-0 home win over Olympiakos Volou.
With two rounds of games remaining, PAOK has nine points, AEK is second with eight, Panathinaikos moved up to seven and Olympiakos Volou has three.
AEK took the lead 14 minutes into the match at the Toumba Stadium with a Nacho Scocco strike from 37 meters away that bounced twice before getting the better of PAOK keeper Costas Chalkias.
PAOK’s Stefanos Athanasiadis missed a glorious chance to equalize five minutes later, failing to score from six meters away with only the goalkeeper to beat.
The equalizer came in the 29th minute, courtesy of a Pablo Garcia free kick from just outside the box that rolled into the AEK net.
PAOK’s first-half comeback was completed within eight minutes as Victor Vitolo converted a penalty to make it 2-1.
Grigoris Makos was sent off in the 73rd minute, leaving AEK with 10 men after a tussle with PAOK’s Lino. Garcia also received his marching orders after punching AEK’s Michel during injury time.
At the Athens Olympic Stadium, Panathinaikos grabbed its first win in the playoffs to stay in with a chance of snatching the top spot, considering also that it will not have to leave Athens for the last couple of games.
A personal effort by Luis Garcia in the box surrounded by three Olympiakos Volou defenders gave Panathinaikos the lead in the 27th minute, with the former Liverpool star controlling the ball with his head before slotting it past the visitors’ keeper Eldin Jakupovic.
Earlier, Mario Breska of Olympiakos Volou had hit the woodwork at the break.
Super League top scorer Djibril Cisse made it 2-0 for Panathinaikos in the 57th by unleashing a fearsome shot from inside the box after a Sebastian Leto cross from the left.
Then Cisse turned from scorer to provider in the 84th minute as he slid the ball across the edge of the box to Costas Katsouranis, who powered it into the Olympiakos Volou net.
The two teams ended the match with 10 men apiece as Katsouranis and Ilias Solakis sought to get a second yellow card each in the dying minutes so as to get a suspension for only one game and not two, given that they had completed seven bookings.