SPORTS

Goal spree ahead of big game

Greek Superleague front-runner AEK and challenger Olympiakos, three points behind, clash next week having both thrashed their respective opponents, Apollon Kalamaria and Levadiakos, with 4-0 scores over the weekend. Panathinaikos stayed tied in second place with a valuable 1-0 away win against Thessaloniki team Iraklis. Newly promoted Asteras Tripoli continued its impressive run with a 1-0 win against visiting Panionios to remain in fourth place with 21 points from 11 games. Leader AEK is on 27 points, while Olympiakos and Panathinaikos have 24 each. AEK opened the scoring early, in the fourth minute of play with a goal from striker Nikos Lyberopoulos, his first of two in the match. Apollon Kalamaria’s Gonzalez Wellington could have leveled for the visiting Thessaloniki side four minutes later but squandered the chance. Brazilian star Rivaldo extended AEK’s lead to 2-0 in the 16th minute and summer signing Ismael Blanco virtually sealed the game for the host in the 40th minute when he made it 3-0. AEK completed the thrashing four minutes from time with Lyberopoulos’s second goal. «Our psychology is good and we believe in our capabilities,» said Lyberopoulos, commenting on yesterday’s big win ahead of next week’s visit to Karaiskaki Stadium with a three-point lead to defend against Olympiakos, the defending champion. Playing its game against lowly Levadiakos on Saturday, the Piraeus team took the lead in the 22nd minute with a powerful volley from Ieroklis Stoltidis. Darko Kovasevic made it 2-0 with a header from a cross delivered by Predrag Djordjevic in the 35th minute of play for his eighth goal of the season. Djordjevic converted a penalty in the 52nd minute to make it 3-0 after Luciano Galletti was intercepted by goalkeeper Nikos Karakostas. The keeper was eventually sent off in the 79th minute after receiving a second yellow card for fouling Galletti. Midfielder Paraskevas Andralas, who replaced Karakostas in goal, saved the penalty taken by Tassos Pantos. Young striker Costas Mitroglou sealed the victory with his second goal of the season in the 63rd. Also Saturday, PAOK beat Veria 2-0. In the round’s other games, all yesterday, it was: Ergotelis-Atromitos, 0-0; Xanthi-OFI, 1-0; Larissa-Aris, 1-0. (Kathimerini, AP)