Title bidders keep their distance

Dimitris Papadopoulos and Argentinean midfielder Ezequiel Gonzalez scored twice each to give Panathinaikos a 5-1 home victory over struggling Akratitos yesterday. Panathinaikos still leads the first division, with 71 points, ahead of archrival and defending champion Olympiakos on 69. There are two rounds left. Olympiakos beat Halkidona 1-0 yesterday with an early goal from Nery Castillo. PAOK lost 1-0 to Panionios in Athens but remains in third place. AEK beat Xanthi 2-1 Saturday. Now fourth, AEK has booked its place in next season’s UEFA Cup. Aegaleo lost to Aris 1-0 away yesterday but had already earned a UEFA Cup spot for the first time in its 73-year-old history. In other games yesterday: Proodeftiki 3, Iraklis 2; Paniliakos 2, Ionikos 2 and OFI 0, Kallithea 0. Looking only for a win, Panathinaikos squandered a handful of clear chances. The pressure paid off in the 23rd when a close-range header by Papadopoulos opened the scoring. Eight minutes into the second period, the 13,000 Panathinaikos supporters were silenced when Said Biazid exploited an error by Yiannis Goumas to level the score at 1-1. But the visitors’ joy lasted only three minutes, as Gonzalez gave his team the lead in the 56th after a scramble in front of the Akratitos goalmouth. Papadopoulos struck again in the 68th for his 17th goal of the season. Gonzalez, in the 84th minute, and Vassilis Bletsas, with a last-minute own-goal, completed the scoring. (AP)

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