Rumors cloud big Panionios victory

A string of unsuccessful Greek club matches in the UEFA Cup ended on Wednesday night in Athens with a spectacular 5-2 victory by Panionios against Georgia’s Dynamo Tbilisi. However, immediately following the match, rumors started swirling about unusual betting patterns on the outcome. According to a BBC radio report, European soccer federation UEFA is investigating the incident. Panionios had lost its group’s first two matches, and it had to beat already eliminated Dynamo. During Wednesday afternoon, several UK-based bookmakers noticed that a lot of punters had predicted that Dynamo would lead during the first half and Panionios would win the match. This is not such an unusual combination, though at least one UK bookmaker, Betfair, had set odds of 33-1 on such an outcome. The unusually heavy betting on that outcome forced some bookies to suspend betting on the match. Betfair, which did not, saw the odds tumble to 4-1 due to a massive influx of money. «Clearly questions have to be asked,» Betfair spokesman Tony Calvin told BBC Sport. «We have a big security team of more than 30 people looking into any possible fraudulent activity and they spotted these patterns very early on,» he added. «We are in the process of gathering information… before deciding what to do next,» a UEFA spokesman said. On the pitch, Panionios, the favorite to win the match, began the match very slowly and conceded control to Dynamo. Panionios fans started whistling and saying the game was set up, something which led coach Giorgos Vazakas to vehemently deny such allegations at the post-match press conference. Dynamo took the lead with Mikheil Kakaladze in the 39th minute and held it through halftime. A much livelier Panionios, helped by substitute Mario Breska, attacked and Vangelis Mantzios equalized in the 58th minute. Dynamo scored a minute later but Mantzios struck in the 67th and 77th minutes to give Panionios a 3-2 lead. Breska and Carlos Marcora scored for Panionios in injury time.