Leader endures fiery reception

A second-half goal by Brazilian striker Giovanni was all defending champion Olympiakos needed to beat OFI in Crete on Sunday, in a game marred by violence off the pitch. Olympiakos supporters clashed with OFI fans inside and outside the stadium before the match’s start. Police used tear gas to stop clashes on the streets around the stadium. Rival supporters inside the stadium tossed hundreds of broken plastic seats and other items at each other. Two television cameras were broken. No injuries or arrests were reported by police. The victory means Olympiakos retains the lead in the first division with 53 points, one ahead of Panathinaikos. Both teams have played 21 games. With two goals from Dimitris Papadopoulos, Panathinaikos beat Iraklis 3-0 in Athens. On Saturday, PAOK played to a scoreless draw at Xanthi and stays third with 44 points. The three top finishers will gain a berth in the Champions League. In other results Sunday it was: Aegaleo 3, Proodeftiki 0; Paniliakos 0, Akratitos 3; Panionios 0, Ionikos 2, and Halkidona 2, AEK 0. On Saturday, Kallithea beat Aris 1-0. Olympiakos controlled play throughout the match, but it took the Piraeus club 70 minutes until Giovanni scored after a melee in front of the OFI goalmouth. It was Giovanni’s 17th goal of the season and keeps him top of first-division scorers this season. OFI played defensively while mounting sudden counterattacks. In one such offensive in the 49th, Olympiakos’s goalminder Kleopas Yiannou saved a blistering shot by Gerasimos Belevonis. Referee Giorgos Borovilos was forced to interrupt the game twice because of objects thrown onto the pitch by OFI fans. Panathinaikos had no difficulty in beating Iraklis 3-0. Papadopoulos gave his team the lead with a controversial goal off a center from Giorgos Seitaridis in the 14th. The visitors complained that Papadopoulos was offside when he received the ball, but referee Thanassis Briakos allowed the goal. Seven minutes into the second period, Angelos Basinas made it 2-0 with a left-foot volley from a pass by German midfielder Markus Muench. Iraklis’s goalkeeper Giorgos Abaris made a fingertip save to a shot from Seitaridis in the 71st. Papadopoulos closed the easy victory with a confident strike from outside the area in the 85th. (AP)