SPORTS

EA Patras is left alone chasing Panathinaikos in volleyball league

EA Patras scored an emphatic 3-0 win at home over Olympiakos to move alone into second spot of the volleyball league, three points behind leader Panathinaikos. In what was its first ever home win over Olympiakos, EA Patras required no more than 90 minutes on Sunday to defeat the champion 25-19, 29-27, 28-26 in a match that was fortunately not spoiled by the clashes between Olympiakos and Panathinaikos fans not a long way from the court. Eventually there were no Olympiakos fans at the match. This was the second straight loss for Olympiakos, after going down to Panathinaikos at home and has put it six points from the top, along with Iraklis. The Thessaloniki side suffered a shock 3-1 home loss at crosstown rival Aris (28-30, 25-22, 25-15, 25-20) due to a below-par performance at the Vassilika court from the side that last season had contested the Champions League final. Leader Panathinaikos strolled to an easy 3-0 win (25-16, 25-22, 25-20) over Panellinios and looks like the favorite to finish top of the table in the regular season. There are six more rounds of games to play. Panathinaikos finished top in the regular season both last year and the year before but lost the title in the playoffs. Lamia moved up to joint fifth, along with Aris, by defeating visiting PAOK 3-1 (23-25, 25-21, 25-22, 25-16), while Apollon Kalamarias made the most of its home advantage to down AEK 3-1 (25-16, 23-25, 25-18, 25-23). Yet the round’s most balanced game took place yesterday as bottom side Foinikas Syrou scored its first away win of the season beating Kifissia 3-2 (25-23, 10-25, 19-25, 25-23, 15-5). Still, the Syros side remains four points behind Kifissia. In Europe, Panathinaikos and Olympiakos have qualified for the last 12 of the Champions League, and will both face Russian opposition in the next round. After the draw held last Thursday, Panathinaikos will play Dynamo Moscow, that features former Panathinaikos star Amaral Dante, and Olympiakos will play Zenit Kazan in home and away games on February 10 and 17. Olympiakos will be the hosts in the first leg and Panathinaikos in the second. If both Greek teams qualify they will face each other for a place in the Final Four, scheduled for Lodz in April.