Panathinaikos keeps a safe distance from Olympiakos

With just three rounds left, Panathinaikos remains at the top of the Greek soccer first division after its 3-1 away win over struggling Kallithea yesterday. Nikos Lymberopoulos, Polish striker Emmanuel Olisadebe and Croatian midfielder Goran Vlaovic scored for Panathinaikos. After 27 rounds, Panathinaikos now has 64 points, three ahead of archrival Olympiakos. Olympiakos hammered Aegaleo 4-0, with Lambros Houtos scoring a hat trick. AEK had little trouble with Ionikos, beating the Nikaia club 3-0, thanks to goals by Vassilis Lakis, Walter Centeno and Vassilis Tsartas. AEK retains third place with 59 points. The round’s upset took place in the port of Patras, western Greece, when last-place Panachaiki (one win, six draws, 20 losses) drew 2-2 against PAOK after the Thessaloniki club conceded a goal in the dying seconds of the match. In other results yesterday it was: OFI 1, Ioannina 0, and Panionios 1, Akratitos 1. On Saturday, Iraklis defeated Xanthi 2-0 and Aris beat Proodeftiki 2-1 to remain in the race for a place in the UEFA Cup. Panathinaikos had a poor first half against Kallithea, a club fighting to avoid relegation after being promoted only last year to the first division. The 5,000 Panathinaikos supporters hoped there would not be a repeat of last week’s performance by the Athens club when it struggled to beat Xanthi 1-0. Kallithea had a good scoring opportunity in the first minute when a header by Theofanis Gekas hit Panathinaikos’s crossbar. Five minutes later, Kallithea keeper Giorgos Souloganis made a fingertip save to a shot by Olisadebe. Panathinaikos took the lead in the 47th minute with Lymberopoulos, who scored after Souloganis was unable to hold the ball following a shot by Olisadebe. The Nigeria-born Polish striker then made it 2-0 in the 69th minute off a cross from Romanian midfielder Erik Lincar. Vlaovic closed the scoring for the league leaders in the 81st. Giorgos Koulakiotis netted Kallithea’s consolation goal in the 87th. Olympiakos turned in one of its best performances of the season, trouncing Aegaleo 4-0. Lambros Houtos was the best player on the field, giving the defending league champion the lead in the sixth minute with a close-range shot. Aegaleo’s defender Giorgos Alexopoulos insisted he had cleared the ball off the line but referee Giorgos Borovilos allowed the goal. Houtos grabbed his second goal in the 15th, and Yugoslav midfielder Predrag Djordjevic made it 3-0 in the 29th off a perfect pass from Brazilian forward Giovanni. Houtos sealed the easy win, taking advantage of confusion in the Aegaleo defense. (AP)