Olympiakos maintains lead

Brazilian striker Giovanni struck twice and Serbian midfielder Predrag Djordjevic added another as Olympiakos beat Aris 3-0 in Thessaloniki yesterday to stay atop the first division. But the game was marred by violence when a group of Aris fans started tossing broken plastic seats at riot police. The police had rushed over to protect an official of the cash-strapped Thessaloniki club from angry supporters. Police said one fan was slightly injured. As a result of the incidents, live TV transmission of the game was interrupted because of damaged equipment. In other soccer violence over the weekend, police used tear gas Saturday to break up clashes between supporters of Olympiakos and rival first-division club AEK. The violence, in which at least one police officer was reported injured by authorities, broke out when a group of Olympiakos fans attacked AEK backers preparing to board a ferry to Crete in the port of Piraeus for yesterday’s match against local side OFI. AEK won 2-0. Olympiakos’s win over Aris came only four days after its humiliating 7-0 away defeat to Italian powerhouse Juventus in the Champions League. The seven-goal margin was the biggest since the Champions League introduced the group format 10 years ago. After 14 league rounds, Olympiakos has 35 points, four ahead of archrival Panathinaikos. Panathinaikos beat lowly Proodeftiki 3-1 yesterday with goals from Croatian striker Goran Vlaovic, Miltos Sapanis and Cypriot forward Michalis Constantinou. Aegaleo, the season’s surprise team, beat Kallithea 1-0 away Saturday to retain third place with 30 points. Also on Saturday, PAOK marked its ninth victory with a 2-1 win at Halkidona to stay in fourth place. In other results yesterday: Xanthi 2, Ionikos 0; Panionios 6, Akratitos 1, and Iraklis 2, Paniliakos 1. Olympiakos had no difficulty getting over its midweek nightmare and easily beating Aris. Djordjevic’s free kick in the 27th minute found Giovanni in the area. He easily beat keeper Theodoros Gitkos to give his club a 1-0 lead. Four minutes later, it was Giovanni’s turn to feed Djordjevic whose well-placed header made it 2-0. Olympiakos’s superiority continued in the second period and climaxed with Giovanni’s second goal in the 65th to seal the final score at 3-0. At the other end, Olympiakos goalminder Dimitris Eleftheropoulos had a good game, denying Aris’s players on more than one occasion. Panathinaikos appeared more organized against lowly Proodeftiki than in recent league games. This was despite the absence of four regular starters, sidelined because of injuries or suspensions. Sapanis missed the first scoring opportunity when Proodeftiki’s goalkeeper Giorgos Kalamakis saved his powerful header in the fourth. But Kalamakis could not do the same against another header by Vlaovic in the 15th, which gave Panathinaikos the lead. Fifteen minutes later, 4,000 supporters at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium – Panathinaikos’s home ground – were silenced when Proodeftiki’s Giorgos Poulopoulos scored the equalizer, which was also a header. But the visitors’ joy was short-lived. Panathinaikos took a 2-1 lead with another header by Sapanis in the 32nd. Three minutes before the end of the first period, Constantinou calmly slotted in his fourth league goal of the season to make the final score 3-1. (AP)