SPORTS

AEK stunned 2-1 at home by lowly Halkidona

Frontrunner Panathinaikos earned a valuable 1-0 away victory against Thessaloniki club Iraklis yesterday to maintain a one-point lead over defending champion Olympiakos after six rounds of play in Greece’s first division. Olympiakos, propelled – despite losing – by a tenacious mid-week performance against Italian powerhouse Juventus in their Champions League game, trounced OFI Crete 4-1 at home courtesy of a hat-trick from Uruguayan Nery Alberto Castillo. In the round’s major upset, AEK later last night was stunned 2-1 at home by unheralded Halkidona. AEK dropped from fourth place to sixth with nine points. On Saturday, PAOK, playing at home against last-placed Xanthi and looking to consolidate its place among the league’s leaders, was held to a 1-1 draw. PAOK, on 11 points, is now placed fourth. A 1-0 away win by Egaleo over Proodeftki elevated the small Athens club to third place with 12 points. In other round six games played yesterday, it was: Akratitos-Paniliakos, 2-2; and Kallithea-Aris, 4-0. On Saturday, Ionikos, second from last, suffered a 2-0 home defeat by a determined Panionios side, now placed fifth. Following a dull first half with minimal scoring action, both Panathinaikos and Iraklis lifted their spirits for a livelier second half that was not without incident. Panathinaikos’s Croat striker Goran Vlaovic and Edvin Murati of Iraklis were both given walking orders after clashing in injury time. Iraklis applied early pressure following the break and striker Nikos Machlas came close to scoring twice. But it was Panathinaikos that provided the clash’s solitary goal in the 74th minute. Dimitris Papadopoulos did the damage with a close-range shot. Olympiakos’s convincing 4-1 win against OFI at home kept the side just a point away from Panathinaikos. Uruguayan midfielder Castillo scored the opener after 19 minutes of play. Christian Karembeu sent in the cross and its recipient, Predrag Djordjevic, set up Castillo for his first of three goals. He netted again six minutes before halftime to give Olympikaos a 2-0 lead at the break. The Piraeus club continued to surge ahead in the second half and was rewarded in the 61st minute when Castillo soared high to spike in a thundering header from a Djordjevic cross for a 3-0 lead. Brazilian striker Gionanni joined Olympiakos’s scoring spree four minutes later, also with a header, after connecting with a Djordjevic cross to make it 4-0. OFI striker Maciej Bykowski scored his side’s consolation goal in injury time for the final 4-1 score. Xanthi, playing without several key players, stunned the home side early with a fourth-minute penalty kick netted by striker Gunther Friesenbichler after teammate Deniz Baykara was brought down in the box. PAOK, looking to consolidate its place among the league leaders, responded quickly with an equalizer headed home by midfielder Dimitris Markou twelve minutes later. Despite dominating throughout the game, PAOK as unable to break a tight and stubborn Xanthi defense. Friesenbichler came close to scoring his second goal for the day right before half time, but his close-range shot struck the crossbar.