Last-minute win over Aegaleo preserves Olympiakos’s lead

An injury-time goal by Giorgos Georgiadis gave Olympiakos a 2-1 win at Aegaleo yesterday to retain the lead in the first division. The Piraeus club now has 38 points, four ahead of archrival Panathinaikos Athens in the 16-team standings. It was also named the unofficial «winter champion,» for its lead midway through the 30-game season. Panathinaikos’s Angelos Basinas grabbed a hat trick to beat Paniliakos Pirgos 6-3 in Athens and stay in title contention. Yiassemis Yiassemakis, Dimitris Salpingidis and Giorgos Koutsis each netted a goal as PAOK Thessaloniki beat crosstown Aris 3-0 to move from fourth to third place with 32 points, two behind Panathinaikos. Aegaleo, the season’s surprise, dropped from third to fourth place with 30 points. On Saturday, pre-season league contender AEK was stunned by a 1-1 home draw with lowly Kallithea, making its hopes of reaching the Champions League more remote. Radio and TV sportscasters stayed silent for the first 10 minutes of all games, as their union protested an attack on reporters by fans last weekend during an Aris vs Olympiakos game in Thessaloniki. In other results Sunday: Ionikos 2, OFI 0; Iraklis 3, Xanthi 0, and Proodeftiki 0, Panionios 3. Also on Saturday, newcomer Halkidona trounced Akratitos 4-2 away. Olympiakos scored against Aegaleo in its first serious attack in the 14th minute. Brazilian forward Giovanni gained the ball in the area, dribbled past two defenders and fired in his 10th goal of the season. Aegaleo almost leveled in the 34th, when Dimitris Eleftheropoulos dived and grabbed the ball as Edingue Wanga was ready to score. Aegaleo stepped up the pace in the second period and scored with Tassos Agritis in the 68th, gaining a lob over the goalie from Nikos Nikolopoulos. Olympiakos, desperate to gain all three points, unleashed successive attacks, while Aegaleo defended well. A shot from Stelios Venetidis hit the post in the 89th minute. Two minutes into injury time, Georgiadis headed in the winner off a free kick from Takis Gonias. At Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium in Athens, Paniliakos’s keeper Yiannis Liourdis made a couple of spectacular saves before conceding a goal from Panathinaikos’s Miltos Sapanis in the 11th. But five minutes later, the visitors leveled when Yiannis Thomaidis exploited Panathinaikos’s sluggish defense. The Athenians regained the lead with a penalty kick from Basinas in the 42nd. But Thomaidis struck again 10 minutes later to make it 2-2. The game’s most impressive goal came in the 60th minute when Basinas’s curled a free-kick from 25 meters straight into Liourdis’s upper-left corner to give the hosts a 3-2 lead. Joel Epalle came off the bench to stretch it to 4-2 in the 62nd, before Panathinaikos’s Danish defender Rene Henriksen narrowed the gap with an own goal. Sapanis made the final 6-3 with a header one minute before the final whistle. First division games will resume on January 11 after league organizers agreed to have a two-week Christmas break. They accepted a request by national team coach Otto Rehhagel to end the season closer to the June kickoff of the Euro 2004 in Portugal. (AP)