Soccer league title is still up for grabs

Panathinaikos’s defender Yiannis Goumas grabbed a late second-half goal to salvage a 2-2 draw against 10-man Olympiakos yesterday, in a game marred by crowd violence. The result, after a scrappy and fiercely fought game, helped Panathinaikos retain its two-point lead over seven-time defending champion Olympiakos in the first division. With four games remaining in the 30-round championship, Panathinaikos has 65 points and Olympiakos has 63 in second place. However, Panathinaikos faces a tougher schedule, notably an away game against third-place PAOK. Away fans were banned from the long-awaited encounter – played before a sellout crowd of 15,000 – as part of a government effort to curb soccer violence. But Panathinaikos fans ran amok before the game and clashed with riot police, who responded with tear gas. At least three fans were arrested and eight riot policeman were slightly injured outside Panathinaikos’s Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium. Violence also occurred inside the facility. Fans threw dozens of flares, and even a dead chicken, onto the pitch. PAOK retained third place with 56 points, despite suffering a 3-0 loss to crosstown Iraklis. With two goals netted in one minute, AEK beat Proodeftiki at Nikaia 4-2 Saturday to stay in fifth place in the standings, in contention for a place in the UEFA Cup. In other results yesterday: Xanthi 1, OFI 0; Panionios 2, Aris 1; Halkidona 0, Aegaleo 1 and Paniliakos 0, Kallithea 5. On Saturday, Akratitos beat Ionikos 3-0. Panathinaikos surprised Olympiakos with a seventh-minute goal. Basinas converted a penalty, sending goalkeeper Kleopas Yiannou the wrong way. Referee Giorgos Douros awarded the spot kick when Spyros Vallas brought down Dimitris Papadopoulos in the Olympiakos area. The visitors nearly leveled when keeper Costas Halkias fumbled the ball. And seconds before the end of the first period, Lambros Houtos, who replaced Dimitris Mavrogennidis five minutes earlier, headed in the equalizer past Halkias’s reach. Olympiakos dominated the start of the second period and took the lead with a fearsome shot by midfielder Predrag Djordjevic. The Serb fired in the volley off a pass from Grigoris Georgatos. Brazilian striker Giovanni handicapped Olympiakos in the 71st when he was sent off for a foul on Sotiris Kyrgiakos. One-man down, Olympiakos fell back to preserve the lead, giving Panathinaikos room to launch consecutive attacks. In one such strike, in the 80th, Goumas clinched the equalizer after a scramble in front of the Olympiakos goalmouth. (AP)

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