Panathinaikos narrows gap

Olympiakos squandered a commanding lead in the Greek league after a 2-1 loss to struggling Ergotelis in Crete yesterday, which, combined with challenger Panathinaikos’s 1-0 away win against Aegaleo, narrows the gap to two points. Third-placed AEK also bolstered its standing at the league’s top after rebounding from a goal down to beat Iraklis 2-1 at home on Saturday. After 19 rounds of play in the 16-team competition, Olympiakos, sporting a 12-5-2 record, leads with 41 points. Panathinaikos is on 39 points, and AEK, 38. Olympiakos was unable to take command against newly promoted Ergotelis, which played with a man less from the 64th minute onward. Nigerian striker Patrick Ogynsoto burst through the Olympiakos defense in injury time and fired the game-winning goal past keeper Antonis Nikopolidis. Ergotelis also scored the first goal, stunning Olympiakos after just two minutes when Ghanaian striker Addo chested down a deep ball from Manolis Soutzis and beat Nikopolidis with a right-foot shot. Olympiakos leveled in the 21st with a penalty taken by Brazilian striker Rivaldo after Romanian defender Lucian Parvu floored Grigoris Georgatos in the penalty box. The visitors looked more threatening in the second half and came close to another goal in the 53rd when defender Giorgos Anatolakis had a shot on the post. In the 63rd, Soutzis got his second yellow card, forcing Ergotelis to play with 10 men for the rest of the match. Meanwhile Fanis Gekas scored his third goal since joining Panathinaikos last month, helping the Athens team edge Aegaleo 1-0 and move it closer to Greek league leader Olympiakos. Gekas, who leads the league with 13 goals, scored the lone goal in the 29th minute after a goalmouth melee. He got his first 10 goals of the season with Kallithea. Panathinaikos, which was playing under Italian coach Alberto Malesani for the first time, got off to a sluggish start and failed to create much excitement in the first half. In other games yesterday, it was: PAOK-Kallithea, 3-1; Panionios-OFI, 2-1; and Halkidona-Aris, 1-0. On Saturday, two goals by Greek international midfielder Costas Katsouranis earned AEK a 2-1 victory over Iraklis. After conceding an early goal, AEK hit back when Katsouranis leveled the score in the 71st minute. Seven minutes later, he followed up with a near-post header to seal the victory. Xanthi kept in touch with the leaders with a convincing 4-1 win over Apollon Kalamaria, while bottom-placed club Kerkyra came back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 at home to Ionikos and claim a valuable point in the battle to escape relegation. (AP, Reuters, Kathimerini)

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