SPORTS

AEK bolsters title campaign

Former Panathinaikos striker Nikos Lymberopoulos scored a late winner as AEK beat its crosstown rival 1-0 yesterday to remain in the race for the First Division title. But the round was marred by fan violence when hundreds of youths, holding sticks and throwing stones, invaded the pitch and ripped up stadium seats in a game between Panionios Athens and Olympiakos Piraeus. Police said 10 anti-riot police were slightly injured while at least two fans were arrested. The match was postponed and soccer authorities have yet to decide when it will be played. AEK’s win may help Olympiakos Piraeus to increase its lead at the top of the 16-team standings. The Athens squad, which remains unbeaten, levels with Olympiakos at the top with 30 points each after 14 rounds. The Piraeus club, with one match in hand, leads on goal difference. Panathinaikos dropped from second to third place with 29 points. In other action yesterday, it was: OFI 2, Ionikos 0; Kerkyra 0, Ergotelis 1; Iraklis 0, Aris 0 and PAOK 5, Apollon 2. Panathinaikos were in attack mode from kickoff and missed a string of opportunities in the first half involving strikers Michalis Constantinou, Dimitris Papadopoulos and Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Gonzales. Constantinou almost gave his side the lead in the 19th minute when he broke free in the box, but was intercepted by AEK’s Portuguese defender Eduardo Alvez before he could shoot on goal. AEK began to enjoy greater possession after the rest period. Led by substitute midfielder Simos Krassas, the hosts looked increasingly dangerous. But the visitors still looked the brighter side on the pitch and missed a golden opportunity in the 67th when Constantinou’s ground-hugging drive hit the post. The Cyprus striker was involved again two minutes later, but his header off a pinpoint cross from new Brazilian signing Anderson went narrowly wide. AEK resisted well and struck five minutes before the final whistle to the delight of over 45,000 supporters at the Athens Olympic stadium as Lymberopoulos gained a rebound after a melee in front of the Panathinaikos goalmouth and fired home, leaving Croatian goalkeeper Mario Galinovic no chance. Panathinaikos launched a series of attacks in the final minutes for a late equalizer but AEK held on. (AP)