Title hopes still linger at AEK

The news of league leader Olympiakos’s late win against Larissa on Sunday may have silenced AEK fans across town at the Olympic Stadium, who were hoping that the Piraeus club would only manage a draw, which would have sent AEK back on top of the standings with two rounds remaining. But, despite Olympiakos’s 2-1 win, courtesy of a 90th minute goal from young striker Costas Mitroglou, AEK’s officials and players still believe that their team has a chance for the title. At AEK, all are hoping that Olympiakos, the defending champion, plagued by poor morale and subdued form in recent weeks, will drop points in either or both of its remaining encounters – at Xanthi this weekend or at home against Iraklis in the final round. Should Olympiakos emerge unscathed from the on-field action, AEK, currently second and two points behind, hopes the Piraeus team will lose three points it was granted by a Greek sports tribunal for a defeat at relegation-threatened Apollon Kalamarias. Olympiakos filed and won an appeal in Greece claiming that the struggling Thessaloniki team had fielded an ineligible player. But Apollon, currently staring relegation in the face, has taken the dispute to an international sports tribunal. AEK coach Nikos Kostenoglou, who led his team to a 3-1 win against visiting Cretan team Ergotelis last weekend and a 4-0 win against Olympiakos a fortnight ago, said he was pleased with his players. «We’re not going to stop trying. We need to keep the faith, keep fighting, and keep hoping. I believe that with two wins we will be champions,» said Kostenoglou. The aging Brazilian star Rivaldo, who was instrumental in AEK’s annihilation of Olympiakos, his former club, two weeks ago, echoed his coach’s optimism. «You see that we’ve now moved up to second from third, and I’m sure that we can end up on top.» said Rivaldo. Olympiakos leads with 64 points, AEK is second with 62 points, and Panathinaikos, set back by a 4-1 thrashing at OFI Crete last weekend, dropped to third on 60 points. Teams placed second to fifth continue in playoff competition for their final placings.

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