PAOK spoils Olympiakos’s perfect record

Olympiakos’s perfect record for the season ended last night following a 2-1 defeat against visiting Thessaloniki club PAOK. Xanthi could take over at the top of the standings should the challenger beat lowly Iraklis in their match at Xanthi tonight. The encounter completes the league’s sixth round of play. Olympiakos remains first with 15 points from six games, while Xanthi, two points behind, has a game in hand. Playing to an empty stadium as a result of sanctions for fan violence, Olympiakos went ahead in the 59th minute when midfielder Yaya Toure curled in a sweetly struck free kick that left PAOK goalkeeper Marcio Fernandes helpless. Four minutes later, the home team’s Pantelis Kafes and Michalis Constantinou combined well to get within striking distance, but a shot unleashed by Kafes produced an impressive save from Marcio Fernandes. PAOK equalized in the 65th minute when Pantelis Constantinidis slotted the ball to the back of the net after being indirectly fed from a Dimitris Salpigidis cross. Five minutes later, Constantinidis added his second to give PAOK its 2-1 final result. Late last night, AEK defeated Ionikos 1-0 away to make it 11 points from six games. Vangelis Mantzios’ first-half goal helped Panathinaikos beat visiting Akratitos 1-0 to remain in the race for the title. Panathinaikos, which hosts Spanish power Barcelona in a Champions League game tomorrow, lies fourth in the 16-team Greek first division standings with 11 points from six games. It was Panathinaikos’s third straight win after a dismal start to its campaign with two points from its opening three games. Akratitos remained stranded in 12th place with five points. In other action on Saturday, it was: Atromitos 1, Levadiakos 0 and Apollon 0, Egaleo 0. Akratitos was unlucky not to take the lead in the third minute when Argentine striker Sebastian de Francesco broke clear on a counterattack, but he was intercepted by a pack of Panathinaikos defenders. The host scored the game’s only goal seconds later when Nordin Wooter delivered a pinpoint cross from the right for Mantzios to head home his third goal of the season. Akratitos could have leveled in the 37th when a close-range bicycle kick by De Francesco went wide. In the second half, Akratitos’s Cristian Marinescu headed narrowly wide in the 71st before Panathinaikos’ Sandor Torghelle’s blistering right-foot drive hit the crossbar. At the league’s lower end, Cretan club OFI, playing at home against Larissa yesterday, was led to its first win of the season by a hat-trick from veteran striker Nikos Machlas. OFI won 3-2. Machlas, back in Greece after a successful career in the Netherlands at Vitesse Arnhem and Ajax Amsterdam, opened the scoring in the second minute and, even though the visitors were enjoying greater ball possession, bolstered his team’s lead with another goal eighteen minutes later. Larissa narrowed to 2-1 in the 64th minute, but Machlas, his club’s captain, restored OFI’s two-goal lead in the 75th minute. Larissa bounced back to reduce to 3-2 in the 85th minute, but the home side held on for the three points. In another relegation-zone battle, Panionios registered its first win for the season against last-place Kallithea. (Kathimerini, AP)