SPORTS

AEK stretches lead with 3-1 away victory

AEK stretched its lead in Greece’s first-division soccer league yesterday with a 3-1 win at Aegaleo as the other main contenders scrambled to keep pace. Demis Nikolaidis, Vassilis Tsartas and Christos Maladenis grabbed a goal each as AEK increased its lead. In the round’s major upset, Panionios beat Olympiakos 3-1 at home, with Czech newcomer Petr Vlcek scoring two goals. Olympiakos’s loss dropped the defending champions from second to fourth place in the 14-team standings with 29 points. After 15 games, AEK has 33 points, two ahead of PAOK. PAOK’s Yiassemis Yiassemakis, Yiannakis Okkas and Pandelis Kaffes each scored to beat Iraklis 3-0 in the Thessaloniki derby. Panathinaikos moved up to third place, with 30 points, with a single goal from Giorgos Karagounis giving the visitors a 1-0 win over OFI in Iraklion, Crete on Saturday. In other games yesterday it was: Panachaiki 1, Xanthi 3, and Ionikos 1, Aris 0. A scheduled match between Akratitos and Ethnikos Asteras was postponed after the death of Akratitos coach Yiannis Pathiakakis on Friday. Aegaleo was more aggressive in the opening minutes of the game against AEK. The hosts came close to taking the lead in the 13th minute when a shot by Cameroonian midfielder Edingue Wanga beat Dionyssis Chiotis but hit the post. A minute later, a blistering shot by Nikolaidis forced Aegaleo’s keeper to send the ball over the bar. In the 35th minute, Tsartas fed Nikolaidis in the hosts’ area. The Greek international dribbled past a defender and the keeper and opened the score with a shot from close range. Aegaleo leveled with a header by Dimitris Meidanis in the 41st. Eighteen minutes into the second half, Nikolaidis gained a penalty and Tsartas made it 2-1. Maladenis, who replaced Michalis Kasapis in the 46th minute, closed the scoring with a header off a pass from Yugoslav striker Ilija Ivic. Olympiakos took an early lead over Panionios in the third minute with Alexis Alexandris off a pass from Brazilian forward Giovanni. Panionios charged forward, leveling with Slovenian midfielder Ermin Siljak in the 25th. It took the lead five minutes later with Vlcek. Panionios’s Czech goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny made a spectacular save to a header by Giorgos Anatolakis in the 37th. Five minutes later, Vlcek headed in his team’s third goal off a corner from Panayiotis Yiannopoulos. After halftime, more than 10,000 spectators at Panionios’s Nea Smyrni stadium saw Olympiakos trying desperately to score, but the hosts resisted well.(AP)