SPORTS

Player injury puts soccer into perspective

Olympiakos looks as good as the champion for the fourth year in succession, after beating main rival PAOK to stretch its lead at the top of the Super League to six points. However the lasting image of the weekend of Greek soccer was the injury to a Panathinaikos player who was unconscious for a few minutes while teammates and opponents tried furiously to ensure he remained alive.

Saturday’s game between Aris and Panathinaikos ended in a 2-0 win for the Greens thanks to two goals by Victor Klonaridis, who also got sent off, but the head injury that Nikos Marinakis suffered and nearly had him lose his life put everything into perspective.

The Panathinaikos full-back crashed on the floor after an opponent banged him with his head. Marinakis stopped breathing and was unconscious, with Panathinaikos and Aris players waving frantically to the doctors to rush onto the pitch. Aris fans clapped their hands showing their solidarity to the visitors’ player while Panathinaikos keeper Stefanos Kapino and others were in tears fearing for the worst.

One of the most striking pictures was the collective effort of both sets of players to remove the advertising hoards and make way for the ambulance that also came onto the pitch to pick up the player, who slowly regained his consciousness to the relief of everyone at the Kleanthis Vikelidis stadium as the resuscitation process was successful. Hospital tests showed no harm was done. It was a rare human moment that brought the best out of all people involved – which is also a rare thing in Greek soccer.

A day later Arsenal’s Joel Campbell led Olympiakos to a 4-0 thumping of PAOK at the Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium in front of a near-capacity crowd.

A visibly tired PAOK, having played in Israel for the Europa League less than three days earlier, could contain the Reds for only the first half-hour. Campbell took over after that, setting up Super League top scorer Costas Mitroglou for his 14th goal of the season in the 36th and then combining with Argentinean star Javier Saviola who made it 2-0 on the hour mark.

Spaniard David Fuster made it 3-0 in the 74th before Campbell, in his best game for Olympiakos since arriving on loan from Arsenal, scored the champions’ fourth 10 minutes from time, to complete PAOK routing.

Olympiakos has a near perfect record of 31 points from 11 games, while PAOK stayed at 25, seven more than third-placed Atromitos who lost 2-1 at Panionios.

In other games Kalloni beat bottom club Veria 3-0 away, Panetolikos downed Levadiakos 2-1 at home, Ergotelis came from behind to defeat visiting Panthrakikos 3-1, PAS Giannina saw off OFI with a 2-1 score and Platanias secured its first home win, a 2-0 victory over Apollon in its first game with manager Nikos Anastopoulos on its bench.

On Monday Asteras Tripolis entertains Xanthi.