SPORTS

Greek league now wide open

Sladan Spasic came off the bench to score four minutes from the end of the game and give PAOK a shock 2-1 away win over Olympiakos yesterday and throw the Greek championship wide open. The defending champions’ second loss of the season shaved its advantage from four to just one over archrival Panathinaikos. A third-minute goal from Miltos Sapanis gave Panathinaikos a 1-0 win in a dismal game at Xanthi. The hosts failed to level in the 70th when a shot by Ismail Ba hit the crossbar. After 16 rounds, Olympiakos leads the standings with 38 points, one ahead of Panathinaikos. PAOK follows in third place with 35 points. Manolis Psomas grabbed two goals to salvage a 2-2 draw for Aegaleo against AEK. Aegaleo, the season’s surprise team, remains fourth with 31 points. AEK, a preseason title contender, follows Aegaleo with 29 points. In other results yesterday, it was: Aris 3, Akratitos 0; Halkidona 2, Proodeftiki 1; and Paniliakos 0, Panionios 0. On Saturday, OFI drew 2-2 with Iraklis and Ionikos beat Kallithea 1-0. A three-week Christmas break did Olympiakos little good, with players scattered in midfield and strikers out of focus. They twice came close to taking the lead, but PAOK’s goalkeeper Kyriakos Tohourglou fended them off with spectacular saves. A major disadvantage for the winner of Greece’s last seven league championships was that French midfielder Christian Karembeu left the pitch with a leg injury in the 32nd minute. Uruguayan Nery Alberto Castillo finally put Olympiakos ahead with a header in the 66th. But two minutes later, Dimitris Salpingidis silenced 10,000 Olympiakos supporters when he leveled off a center from Evangelos Koutsopoulos. Spasic came on for Ebenezer Hagan in the 80th and six minutes later netted the winner off a cross from Cypriot striker Yiasoumi Yiasemakis. Olympiakos played at its home ground, Rizoupoli stadium, watched only by its supporters. In an effort to crack down on fan violence, Deputy Minister for Sports Giorgos Lianis banned away fans from all matches for the rest of the season. The measure drew sharp criticism, particularly from small teams which depend on traveling fans from big clubs to improve their finances. Clashes are common in Greek soccer, and game attendance has suffered as a result, in turn hurting team revenues. (AP)