AEK keeps lead with 6-2 win

Theo Zagorakis struck twice as AEK thrashed Panionios 6-2 yesterday to increase its lead in the Greek first division soccer league. The ninth round’s major upset occurred when Panathinaikos lost 2-1 at home to PAOK. The result almost ended its title chances and brought coach Yiannis Kyrastas to the brink of resignation. Tomorrow you’ll find out whether I’ll resign or not, Kyrastas told reporters after the match. Panathinaikos – one of the three major league title contenders – dropped to eighth place in the standings with only 12 points. AEK exploited Saturday’s 1-1 draw by defending champion Olympiakos against OFI in Crete to extend its league lead. After nine rounds, AEK tops the table with 24 points, five clear of Olympiakos in second place. Aris is third with 16 points. Panionios surprised AEK, with Apostolos Mantzios scoring 28 seconds from kickoff. The league leader reacted swiftly and equalized with a penalty kick taken by Vassilis Tsartas in the 15th minute. Mantzios handicapped his team when he saw a second yellow card in the 55th, leaving Panionios with 10 players for 35 minutes. Sotiris Constantinidis gave AEK the lead in the 42nd minute, Zagorakis made it 3-1 six minutes later, and Demis Nikolaidis extended the score to 4-1 in the 62nd. Ilias Ioannou pulled a goal back for Panionios in the 65th but the retaliation was short-lived. Zagorakis scored again in the 76th. And in the 89th, Brazilian striker Ferouzem made the final 6-2. Panathinaikos started well in its clash against PAOK taking the lead with a shot from outside the area by Finnish striker Joonas Kolkka in the seventh minute. But its performance went downhill, disappointing more than 8,000 Panathinaikos supporters at the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium. PAOK equalized with Yiannis Okkas in the 69th, and Pandelis Constantinidis netted the winner with a blistering shot from outside the box in the 83rd. On Saturday, Olympiakos controlled play throughout the match against OFI in Crete, scoring one goal and squandering at least three other major chances. Thirty minutes into the game, Christos Patsatzoglou’s cross from the right found Alexis Alexandris in the area. The 33-year-old striker had no trouble scoring his fifth goal of the season to give Olympiakos the lead. In the 55th, Costas Kiassos dribbled past Olympiakos’s Brazilian midfielder Ze Elias and passed to Costa Rican forward Ronald Gomez, who leveled with a powerful shot from the edge of the box. (AP)

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