Frustration for Panathinaikos

Title contender Panathinaikos dropped points in the opening round of Greece’s first division league yesterday, after being held to a 2-2 draw by Panionios. The Athens club also suffered a key injury. Michalis Constantinou was carried off the pitch on a stretcher in the 67th minute and is likely to miss Wednesday’s Champions League game against Arsenal. The Cypriot striker collided with Panionios keeper Jaroslav Drobny. Panathinaikos’s archrival Olympiakos gained its first three points with a 3-0 win over Iraklis Thessaloniki Saturday, but lost Brazilian midfielder Ze Elias, who suffered a knee injury. He will miss a Champions League game in France Tuesday against Lille. In the Thessaloniki derby, PAOK and Aris drew 1-1. Before the start of the game, supporters clashed outside the stadium. One policeman and eight fans were slightly injured. In other action Sunday it was: Akratitos 2, Xanthi 0; Panachaiki 5, Aegaleo 3; OFI 2, Ethnikos Asteras 0; Ionikos 1, AEK 2. More than 11,000 spectators at the Panionios stadium watched an action-packed game with four goals, a string of missed chances, and a hostile atmosphere on the pitch. Panathinaikos’s Danish midfielder Jan Michaelsen and Panionios’s Takis Gonias were both sent off. Panionios took the lead in the 34th with a shot from Costas Kafalis that slipped through Antonis Nikopolidis’s hands. Panathinaikos leveled with Emmanuel Olisadebe nine minutes later and Constantinou made it 2-1 for the visitors with a header in the 51st. The equalizer came four minutes later by Karim Mouzaoui. In Saturday’s opening game, Andreas Niniadis became the season’s first scorer with two goals against Iraklis. The midfielder gave Olympiakos the lead with a free kick in the 43rd, and two minutes later he converted a penalty when Giorgos Alexopoulos brought Stelios Yiannakopoulos down in the visitors’ area. It ended a lackluster spell of play that had dissatisfied 14,000 fans at the 75,000-seat Olympic stadium in Athens, used by Olympiakos as its home field. In the second period, Yiannakopoulos stretched the score to 3-0 off a pass from Brazilian forward Giovanni in the 53rd. Iraklis’s Costas Nebegleras hit the crossbar five minutes later. Iraklis played with 10 players for 25 minutes after Alexopoulos saw his second yellow card in the 65th. Coach Takis Lemonis sidelined Olympiakos’s regular keeper Dimitris Eleftheropoulos and Colombian defender Jorge Bermudez as punishment for a dispute in Spain after a Champions League game last week. The dispute stemmed from substitute Juan Valeron’s last second goal that leveled the score 2-2 and deprived Olympiakos from a victory over Deportivo La Coruna.(AP)

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