AEK retains lead despite draw

AEK’s Brazilian striker Alexandre Soares scored his sixth goal of the season yesterday to salvage a 1-1 draw against struggling Aris in Thessaloniki. The tie cut AEK’s lead in the Greek first division from three points to one. After six rounds, AEK has 14 points, one point ahead of defending champion Panathinaikos Athens and archrival Olympiakos Piraeus. On Saturday, Panathinaikos trounced crosstown Panionios 4-0 and Olympiakos hammered PAOK 5-1. With a goal in second-half injury time, Nigerian striker Patrick Ogynsoto gave league newcomer Ergotelis a 1-1 draw yesterday against Halkidona. It was Ergotelis’s second point from six games in the first division and the Cretan club remains at the bottom of the 16-team standings. Halkidona, promoted to the top division last season for the first time in its 73-year history, now has 11 points after six rounds and is fifth in the 16-team standings. In other results yesterday, it was: Ionikos 1, Iraklis 0; Apollon 3, Kerkyra 0; Aegaleo 1, Xanthi 1, and Kallithea 3, OFI 1. Aris stunned AEK in the 10th minute when Argentine midfielder Manuel Sanjurjo rifled in a 25-meter shot. Aris was forced into the back seat thereafter, as AEK dominated possession for most of the match. The visitors came close to an equalizer toward the end of the first period when Cyprus midfielder Simos Krassas dribbled past three defenders but shot narrowly wide from close range. AEK became more aggressive after the interval and nearly leveled in the 52nd minute when an Aris defender cleared Soares’s shot off the line. Sustained pressure from the Athens club was finally rewarded in the 61st when Soares made it 1-1 with a blistering angled shot from inside the box. The goal sent the Brazilian to the top of all first-division scorers with six goals. AEK continued to press for a win but Aris held on for the valuable point. On Saturday, Brazilian star Rivaldo scored two first-half goals to help Olympiakos trounce PAOK 5-1. They were Rivaldo’s first goals since he joined the Piraeus club this season. Playing before a sellout crowd of 33,000, Olympiakos took an early lead with Giovanni in the sixth minute on a gaffe by the defense. Instead of giving the ball to his goalkeeper, PAOK’s defender Dionysis Hassiotis mistakenly passed it to Giovanni who easily beat keeper Ilias Atmatzidis. In the 13th minute, an unmarked Rivaldo chested down Yiannis Okkas’s pass to the center and made it 2-0 with a right-footed strike. Rivaldo gave Olympiakos a three-goal margin in the 25th, off a pass from Predrag Djordjevic. Djordjevic converted a penalty in first-half injury time, to stretch the score to 4-0. PAOK, once a major title contender, became more aggressive after the half-time break and narrowed the difference with a goal by Dimitris Salpingidis in the 64th minute. Uruguayan striker Nerry Castillo, who substituted Cyprus forward Okkas in the 68th, made the final 5-1 after a splendid display of one-touch soccer involving Rivaldo, Giovanni and the scorer. Panathinaikos’s 4-0 win over Panionios, also Saturday, was the club’s first with Czech coach Sdenek Scasny who replaced Israeli manager Itzhak Shum earlier last month. (AP)