Olympiakos maintains its slender lead

Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure scored twice and Predrag Djordjevic converted a penalty Saturday to help Olympiakos Piraeus beat Aegaleo 3-1 and retain its lead in the Greek first division. Malko Maric scored the host’s goal. Playing last night, AEK defeated visiting Thessaloniki rival PAOK 2-1 with an injury-time winner to maintain the one-point gap separating the second-placed side from Olympiakos. Olympiakos has 30 points from 12 games. A free-flowing game, the AEK-PAOK clash was enjoyed by over 30,000 fans in the stands at the Olympic Stadium. But AEK’s fans will be forced to miss their club’s next two home games after a sports tribunal imposed a two-game fan ban on the club last Friday for violence during the team’s away game against Leivadiakos last weekend. Several police officers were reportedly injured in the trouble that was ignited by ticketless AEK fans trying to storm the stadium. Panathinaikos, another title contender, lost at Atromitos 1-0 on a second-half injury time goal. The loss was a blow for the Athens squad, which now trails arch rival Olympiakos by seven points. In Saturday’s other game, Kallithea played to a scoreless draw against Apollon. AEK rebounded quickly after PAOK opened the scoring in the 20th minute with a spectacular shot from Polish striker Marcin Mieciel. The home side hit back six minutes later when Italian defender Bruno Cirillo struck in from close range after PAOK’s defense failed to clear a corner kick. Striker Alessandre Soares headed in the home side’s injury-time winner, also the result of a corner kick, in the 91st minute. Mid-placed Iraklis rebounded from a one-goal deficit to beat Ionikos 2-1 in Thessaloniki and continue its gradual rise in the standings. Panagiotis Lagos struck twice for the home team, in the 65th and 75th minutes, after Ionikos went ahead in the 30th minute. Last-placed Akratitos and visiting Cretan side OFI, hovering just above the relegation zone, played a 1-1 draw in Athens. Larissa, at home, defeated Livadiakos 1-0. Round 12 will be completed tonight with Panionios hosting Xanthi. In Saturday’s action, Olympiakos took an early lead through Toure off a cross from Cyprus striker Yiannis Okkas in the 13th minute. Aegaleo wasted a chance to level when a powerful shot by Giorgos Fotakis sailed over the bar in the 45th. A perfectly struck free kick by Toure made it 2-0 in the 50th before Maric pulled one back for Aegaleo in the 56th. Aegaleo almost grabbed an equalizer in the 79th when the unmarked Nikos Nikolopoulos forced a double save by Olympiakos goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis. Seven minutes before the final whistle, Djordjevic sealed the victory with a penalty kick. The win gave Olympiakos a lift ahead of their final Champions League match against Real Madrid tomorrow but they are bottom of the four-team standings with just one point and cannot even qualify for the UEFA CUP by finishing third. Panathinaikos, who need a point at Werder Bremen in the Champions League on Wednesday to qualify for the UEFA Cup, dominated against Atromitos but just could not score. Atromitos came close to scoring when Nasief Morris cleared Giorgos Dimos’s shot off the line in the 77th before Panathinaikos striker Fanis Gekas headed wide from the six-yard line. Giorgos Zacharopoulos scored the winner off a cross from Giorgos Korakakis in the closing minutes of the game. (AP, Reuters, Kathimerini)