Panathinaikos defeats archrival Olympiakos 1-0, leads title race

One week after losing the Greek first-division lead, Panathinaikos Athens moved back to the top after beating rival Olympiakos Piraeus 1-0 with a 43rd minute goal by Michalis Konstantinou. Olympiakos now drops to third place with 50 points, three behind Panathinaikos and two behind AEK Athens. AEK beat PAOK Thessaloniki 2-0 in Athens with two goals by Alexandre Soares. The traditional derby was marred by minor pre-match scuffles outside the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium between fans and police. The match also marked the return, to a hostile reception, of Olympiakos goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis, who moved to Olympiakos this season after a 15-year career with Panathinaikos. Both sides got off to a lively start, with Olympiakos missing the first chance of the match in the 16th minute when Yiannis Okkas was unable to convert a piercing throughball by Grigoris Georgatos. Panathinaikos responded in the 27th with the league’s top scorer Fanis Gekas, who broke free in the box, but his close-range shot was saved by Nikopolidis. Panathinaikos began to dominate and four minutes later Argentine midfielder Ezequiel Gonzales found space in the area, but Nikopolidis was on hand again to save the midfielder’s powerful shot. Panathinaikos netted the winner two minutes before halftime when Yiannis Goumas headed a Markus Muench corner into the path of Konstantinou who in turn headed the ball into the net. It was the Cyprus striker’s 11th goal of the season. Olympiakos squandered a golden opportunity to restore parity in the 54th, when Nery Castillo shot wide on an open goal. Both sides went on to miss a string of opportunities, with Olympiakos’s Brazilian star Rivaldo heading the ball onto the post in the 66th. «We won the match because we had passion… but the title race is far from over,» said Konstantinou after the game. Also Sunday, it was: OFI 0, Halkidona 1; Ionikos 1, Ergotelis 0; Aris 0, Apollon 0 and Xanthi 3, Panionios 0. On Saturday, Iraklis defeated last-place Kerkyra 5-1. (AP)

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