Olympiakos defeats rival Panathinaikos

Rebounding from a goal down, league front-runner and defending champion Olympiakos, led by Brazilian star Rivaldo, beat Panathinaikos 3-2 at home last night to establish a 12-point lead over its archrival just over the season’s halfway mark that, realistically, put it out of the title race. Olympiakos leads the 16-team competition with 42 points from 16 games. AEK, the only obstacle to Olympiakos’s ninth title in 10 seasons, lies second, three points behind. AEK defeated Atromitos 2-1 on Saturday with a late winner to stick within striking distance of Olympiakos. Panathinaikos, a distant third with 30 points from 16 games, now appears to be out of the picture, while the club’s Champions League berth for next season also appears endangered. The derby, a tightly contested one, was watched by a packed Karaiskaki Stadium of home team fans only. League officials decided against providing the away team with match tickets as a security measure. All started brightly last night for Panathinaikos, which went into the game seeking victory to narrow the gap separating it from Olympiakos to six points. The visiting side opened the scoring in the 21st minute after Argentinean Ezequiel Gonzalez ignored antics from the stands – including a flare tossed at him while preparing for his penalty kick – to convert in cool fashion. After piercing his way into Olympiakos’s goalmouth, striker Dimitris Papadopoulos was brought down by the Piraeus club’s goalkeeper Antonis Nikopolidis for the penalty kick. Nine minutes later, Papadopoulos smartly fed teammate Antony Seric to set him up, but Seric reacted slowly to squander a chance to put his club two goals ahead. A fabulous shot from Rivaldo made it 1-1 in the 38th minute. Then, in the 57th minute, the Brazilian scored his second for the night to put Olympiakos 2-1 ahead. Grigoris Georgatos tapped the ball to the nearby Rivaldo who sent the ball through a tightly packed defense. A misjudged return header by Panathinaikos’s Nasief Morris to keeper Mario Galinovic allowed Olympiakos striker Michalis Constantinou to tap in from within the small box to make it 3-1 for Olympiakos in the 72nd. Panathinaikos, however, responded quickly to narrow the gap to 3-2 just a minute later. Striker Fanis Gekkas sent in an angled shot from the far right that beat two defenders and went in off the left goal post. Oleg Venhlinsky came off the bench in the 88th minute to score the winner and help AEK beat Atromitos 2-1 on Saturday. Nikos Lymberopoulos gave AEK the lead, while Giorgos Zacharopoulos scored the visitors’ goal with a penalty kick. Also Saturday, Iraklis beat Akratitos 1-0. AEK was made to struggle by a disciplined Atromitos side, which showed its attacking intentions in the first half when a fierce shot by Zacharopoulos in the 23rd minute went narrowly wide. AEK took the lead in the 31st with a header by Limberopoulos off a corner kick by Julio Cesar. It was his sixth goal of the season. Atromitos leveled seconds before halftime when Zacharopoulos converted a penalty after AEK defender Nikos Georgeas was sent off for handling the ball on the line. Despite playing one man down, AEK continued to attack and won all three points thanks to a late goal by Venhlinsky, who broke free behind the Atromitos defense to beat Chrysostomos Michailidis. In other games played yesterday, Ionikos played strongly in the second half to defeat visiting Levadiakos 2-0. Apollon Kalamaria increased its chances of remaining in the first division with a valuable 2-1 away victory against struggling Cretan side OFI. In Thessaloniki late last night, PAOK defeated Xanthi 1-0. Larissa hosts Panionios tonight. Round 16 will be completed next Sunday when Aegaleo greets Kallithea in the weekend’s only first-division match because of the national league’s commitment at a friendly tournament in Saudi Arabia. (Kathimerini, AP)

Subscribe to our Newsletters

Enter your information below to receive our weekly newsletters with the latest insights, opinion pieces and current events straight to your inbox.

By signing up you are agreeing to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.