SPORTS

Olympiakos four points clear

Giorgos Georgiadis scored his third goal of the season and set up another as Olympiakos beat Aris 2-1 yesterday to regain the lead in the Greek first division. The Piraeus squad took advantage of a 3-1 loss by Panathinaikos at Xanthi and AEK’s 2-2 draw with newcomer Kerkyra. Olympiakos also exploited an appeals court decision on Friday to return three points it had been docked for fan violence before the start of a game against Panionios earlier this month. The deduction of the three points had dropped the Piraeus squad from first to third place. Olympiakos now has 37 points from 16 matches and the postponed match against Panionios at hand. AEK follows in second place with 34 points, one ahead of Panathinaikos. In other action yesterday, it was: Ergotelis 1, Kallithea 1; Halkidona 0, Iraklis 0; and Aegaleo 2, OFI 0. In Saturday’s games, it was: Apollon Kalamaria 1, Ionikos 1; and PAOK 1, Panionios 0. It looked like Olympiakos would enjoy a comfortable evening after a diving header from Cyprus striker Yiannis Okkas gave the Piraeus club a third-minute lead. But Aris leveled a minute later with a spectacular 30-meter lob by midfielder Agapitos Ambelas. Olympiakos, which played behind closed doors as punishment for fan violence, dominated possession but failed to create any real goal-scoring opportunities until the 59th minute when Brazilian playmaker Giovanni fed Georgiadis in the penalty area with a splendid pass. The Greece international easily made the score 2-1. In the 64th, Aris came close to leveling when a volley by Dolje Kouemaha rattled the crossbar of goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis. At Xanthi, the provincial club got off to a storming start and stunned Panathinaikos after just six minutes through Nikos Zapropoulos, who caught the visitors’ defense napping to head Brazilian playmaker Luciano’s corner past Mario Galinovic. A trademark free kick by Luciano in the 37th from just outside the area made it 2-0 before Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Gonzales pulled one back for the Athens club in the 42nd. Panathinaikos became more aggressive after the rest period in an effort to level, but it was Xanthi that made sure of the points in the 67th when a clever through ball from Stelian Karabas released Turkish striker Deniz Baykara, who made no mistake from close range to make it 3-1. Panathinaikos almost narrowed the margin in the 84th when the ball, after a melee, fell into the path of South African defender Nasief Morris, but his shot was off target. AEK took an early lead against Kerkyra with an own-goal by Giorgos Syros in the fifth, but the hosts leveled through Fofonka in the 30th. Vladan Ivic put AEK ahead in the 58th and Andreas Niniadis made the final 2-2 five minutes later. (AP)