SPORTS

Panathinaikos returns to playoff top

Panathinaikos turned the tables to go top of the soccer Super League playoff standings after beating PAOK 1-0 at home on May 22, having started the day in third place.

The Greens got to 10 points from five games, scoring 16 minutes from time: PAOK goalkeeper Costas Chalkias spilled a Djibril Cisse shot into the path of Gilberto Silva, who slotted the ball in with ease during his last game in front of Panathinaikos fans, as he is likely to return to Brazil this summer.

However, the former Arsenal star appeared on television replays to be in an offside position. PAOK players did not protest about it.

PAOK pushed hard in the last quarter of an hour but failed to equalize, with Stefanos Athanasiadis missing its best chance right in front of the Alexandros Tzorvas goalmouth.

At the end of the match, Cisse gathered all the Panathinaikos players in the center of the pitch, where they all formed a circle and applauded Gilberto Silva while the fans chanted his name.

Another moving moment came in the 76th minute, when PAOK striker Dimitris Salpigidis was substituted but received a standing ovation from the 20,000 Panathinaikos fans in appreciation of his career at the Athens side in the previous four seasons.

PAOK stayed in second with nine points, as AEK lost 1-0 at the Panthessaliko Stadium to Olympiakos Volou to remain on eight points.

The Volos club, which reached six points, had Peter Dolezaj to thank for its win. The Slovak defender scored in the 84th minute as his header beat AEK keeper Sebastian Saja after a free kick from Mario Breska.

AEK was second best in the first half but felt it should have got something out of this game on the strength of its second-half performance.

The playoffs conclude on Wednesday with the Athens derby between AEK and Panathinaikos — behind closed doors — and the clash between PAOK and Olympiakos Volou.