Reds win downgraded trophy

Fielding a second-rate side and facing an opponent that had acted likewise, Olympiakos defeated Larissa 1-0 last night to win the Super Cup, a showdown for the previous season’s league and cup winners, which has struggled to gain the full respect of clubs and fans alike. The turnout at Olympiakos’s Karaiskaki Stadium was mediocre and the coaches of both finalists opted to give younger squad members a rare run-out. One of these, Costas Mitroglou – a star of the Under-19 national soccer team at last summer’s European Championships, where Greece lost to Spain in the final – scored the winner for Olympiakos with a header in the 39th minute. «Both teams downgraded this event,» admitted Olympiakos coach Takis Lemonis after the game. Besides their domestic duties, both Olympiakos and Larissa are currently also committed to ongoing European club-level competitions, the Champions League and UEFA Cup, respectively. Also yesterday, in two fourth-round Greek Cup games, Panathinaikos and Panionios advanced to the next stage with away victories over second division sides, Ethnikos Asteras and Kastoria, respectively. Playing with a man less from the 44th minute, Panathinaikos overcame Ethnikos Asteras 3-1. The visitors were already 2-0 up when Romero got his marching orders, with goals from Dame N’Doye and Vangelis Mantzios. Four minutes into the second half, Mantzios doubled his tally to give Panathinaikos a match-winning 3-0 lead. Ethnikos Asteras reduced the deficit with Mimis Beniskos in the 66th minute. UEFA Cup group-stage qualifier Panionios beat host Kastoria 3-2. The visitors led 3-0 after 50 minutes but a gritty Kastoria side responded with two goals from Nestoras Stefanidis, who missed a great chance to send the game into extra time. Two more fourth-round cup games are scheduled for today with third-division team Fostiras at home to Super League frontrunner AEK and Ethnikos at home to OFI. The round leading to the last 16 ends on December 5 with Olympiakos playing Diagoras Rhodes away.