AEK makes most of stumbles by rivals

Kostas Katsouranis scored a second-half goal to give AEK a 1-0 win over Aegaleo and move into a tie on points with crosstown Panathinaikos atop the Greek first-division standings. AEK took advantage of Olympiakos’s 1-1 draw against Kallithea and Panathinaikos’s goalless draw against Ionikos. After 16 rounds, AEK and Panathinaikos have 33 points each, but Panathinaikos leads on goal difference. Olympiakos follows with 31 points. The Piraeus squad dropped from first to third place two weeks ago after a sports tribunal fined the club and deducted three points each from Olympiakos and Panionios for fan violence at a game on January 9. The sanctions were the most severe ever imposed on Greek soccer teams. An appeal by both clubs will be heard today. In other action yesterday, it was: OFI 0, Apollon 0; Kerkyra 0, PAOK 1 and Iraklis 2, Ergotelis 0. Panathinaikos, which was without key players Markus Muench and Ezequiel Gonzales, failed to capitalize on chances in both halves and couldn’t take advantage of an extra man in the final 12 minutes. Michalis Constantinou had Panathinaikos’s best chance in the opening half when his 32nd-minute shot required a pair of saves from Ionikos’s Albanian goalkeeper Arian Beqaj. Panathinaikos was increasingly forced to rely on long-range shots, but had another chance when defender Loukas Vyntras could not push Rudolf Skacel’s cross into an open goal in the 70th. Ionikos was reduced to 10 men after Giorgos Vourexakis was ejected for a second yellow card in the 78th. Facing former coach Ilie Dumitrescu, who moved to Aegaleo last week in place of Belgium’s Stephan Demol, AEK was made to work hard by the determined visitors. Despite enjoying possession for most of the game, AEK had to wait until the 50th minute before Greek international Katsouranis headed in the winner from the near post off a corner from newly signed Julius Cesar. Aegaleo almost stunned AEK in the eighth minute when Tassos Agritis broke free in the box only to be blocked by goalkeeper Dionysis Hiotis. In the 88th, Aegaleo came close to equalizing on Dimosthenis Manousakis’s powerful shot from the edge of the box, but Hiotis again saved AEK. At Kallithea, Olympiakos failed twice to take an early lead when Predrag Djordjevic’s penalty attempt was saved by Kallithea keeper Panayiotis Bartzokas in the 14th minute and moments later, Rivaldo put a header off the crossbar. The hosts held on until the 40th when Yiannis Okkas’s cross was deflected off Kallithea defender Michalis Tzormbatzakis and into the net. The visitors pressed for a second goal, but Kallithea equalized when Fanis Gekas converted a penalty in the 53rd. (AP)

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