Locals shine in leagues abroad
It was a formidable weekend for some of the country’s soccer talent playing club-level competition in distinguished European leagues, with Costas Katsouranis, Fanis Gekas and Sotiris Kyrgiakos all scoring and putting in sturdy performances for their respective teams. Greece midfielder Katsouranis, who moved to leading Portuguese team Benfica from AEK last summer, impressed yet again as one of his team’s leading players in a 2-1 win over Maritimo. Katsouranis scored the encounter’s winning goal, his fourth for the season in 678 minutes of total playing time. The Greek international’s sturdy performance came just days after a solid midweek Champions League display in Benfica’s 3-1 win over Copenhagen that kept alive the Portuguese team’s hopes of advancing beyond the group stage. To do so, however, Benfica must overcome mighty Manchester United at Old Trafford in the last round of group play. Striker Gekas, currently on loan from Panathinaikos to Bundesliga struggler Bochum, struck again last weekend for his sixth goal in 12 games with his German club, this time in a 1-1 draw against front-runner Schalke. Bochum lies 16th in Germany’s 18-team top league. «He’s as quick as an arrow and scores. He has already scored six times, which is one-third of his team’s tally [this season],» noted the German soccer magazine Kicker, in a feature story covering Gekas, now playing his first Bundesliga season. Gekas, who has also scored two goals in cup action with Bochum, wasn’t the only Greek to score in the Bundesliga last weekend. A less likely scorer, the rugged central defender Kyrgiakos, now with Eintracht Frankfurt following a stint with Scottish club Glasgow Rangers, scored his first goal for the season in his team’s 1-1 draw against Dortmund. The goal put his team ahead before Dortmund struck back to share the encounter’s points. «I wasn’t able to enjoy my first goal as much as I would have liked because we weren’t able to hold on for victory,» Kyrgiakos told Kicker magazine. Eintracht is 11th in the standings, four places below Dortmund.