Olympiakos retains league lead

With four second-half goals in just 12 minutes, Olympiakos thrashed last-place Akratitos 5-0 yesterday to retain its one-point lead in the Greek first division. Polish striker Krzysztof Kuzba scored twice, while Serbian midfielder Predrag Djordjevic, Brazilian forward Giovanni and Greek midfielder Ieroklis Stoltidis grabbed one goal each. Olympiakos, holder of the last seven titles, now has 41 points from 17 games, one ahead of archrival Panathinaikos in second place. A 6th minute goal by Yiannis Goumas gave Panathinaikos a 1-0 home victory over OFI Crete. On Saturday, PAOK and Aegaleo played to a scoreless draw. PAOK has 36 points in third place followed by AEK and Aegaleo, both with 32 points. These three teams are hoping to gain one of the top three places leading to the Champions League. Rival fans who found themselves in the same stand clashed before AEK’s away game yesterday against Ionikos. One supporter was lightly injured. AEK won the game 1-0. Greece’s top sports official, Giorgos Lianis, recently banned organized fan clubs from traveling to away matches in an attempt to prevent trouble. The round’s other games were free of fan violence. In other results yesterday: Proodeftiki 0, Aris 0; Paniliakos 0, Halkidona 2 and Panionios 1, Xanthi 0. On Saturday, Iraklis marked its seventh league victory of the season with a 2-0 home win over struggling Kallithea. In a one-team show, defending champion Olympiakos enjoyed an easy 5-0 victory against Akratitos. The visitors’ task became much easier in the 36th minute when Akratitos keeper Dimitris Raptis was sent off under the last-player rule after fouling Djordjevic in the penalty area. Djordjevic got up and converted from the spot to make it 1-0. Despite playing against only 10 men, Olympiakos had to wait until the 74th for a second goal, a confident close-range strike from Kuzba. In an impressive return to action after leg surgery, Kuzba made it 3-0 six minutes later. Giovanni stretched the lead to 4-0 in the 83rd and Stoltidis added a fifth in the 85th as the Akratitos defense collapsed. It could have been even worse for Akratitos had 18-year-old keeper Grigoris Athanassiou, who replaced Raptis, not made three impressive saves. Playing at home in the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium, Panathinaikos disappointed 12,000 fans with an uninspiring game against OFI. Except for Goumas’s early goal and a missed scoring opportunity by Miltos Sapanis in the 27th, the rest of the match was lackluster soccer. OFI’s best chance came in the 49th with a shot by Alexandre Soares which narrowly missed. The visitors pressed hard at the end but were unable to beat the Panathinaikos defense. (AP)

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