SPORTS

Nioplias set to leave Panathinaikos

Panathinaikos coach Nikos Nioplias looks to be on his way out after the Greens stumbled at home against Larissa on an eventful Saturday that also saw PAOK defeat AEK in injury time, Olympiakos’s match being abandoned at halftime and Panionios’s board quitting in its entirety. Panathinaikos missed its chance to stake a solo claim on the top spot in the Super League as it only managed a 1-1 draw against Larissa at the Olympic Stadium, prompting its fans to jeer both the players and the coach, Nikos Nioplias, at the final whistle. Larissa took the lead in the seventh minute thanks to a Daniel Cousin goal, with Panathinaikos getting back on level terms 15 minutes later through Djibril Cisse’s eighth league goal of the season. Panathinaikos did not create many chances, but its biggest came in the last minute of injury time when Luis Garcia’s header hit the woodwork. Pressure on Nioplias is growing, with Panathinaikos president Nikolas Pateras refusing to state anything in public about the team’s manager. «Whatever I have to tell him I’ll say in person,» he said. Reports last night stressed that the club’s general manager and technical director called on Pateras to replace Nioplias. The first names of potential successors have already started making the rounds, a sure sign that Nioplias is to leave after barely 12 months at Panathinaikos, during which he helped the team to won the double. The Greens are now joint top of the table as Olympiakos’s game at Ergotelis was abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch. The first 45 minutes were played under heavy rain on a muddy pitch and produced no goals, with the referee deciding to abandon the game at halftime, to the dismay of both sets of players. The second half will be staged on «the first available Wednesday,» according to the Super League, that probably being November 24. PAOK rose to third thanks to its 2-1 win at home. PAOK’s Giorgos Fotakis scored first in the 45th minute. AEK equalized through a Leonardo penalty in the 68th, but the Thessaloniki team regained the upper hand when AEK’s Costas Manolas was dismissed in the 78th and translated its numerical advantage into victory in the second minute of time added on through Adelino Vieirinha. AEK’s Traianos Dellas was also red-carded in the fifth minute of injury time while on the bench, for hurling a 1.5-liter plastic cola bottle at the stands. Atromitos snatched a precious 1-0 away win at Panionios, moving out of the relegation zone courtesy of an Andreas Tatos goal in the 35th minute. Panionios is having off-pitch headaches too, as its board has resigned in protest at major shareholder Constantinos Tsakiris’s reported intention to sell the club to a person close to Kavala owner Makis Psomiadis. Kerkyra and Xanthi shared a 1-1 draw on Corfu, upon Kerkyra’s return to its home ground that had been closed for refurbishment. The match produced little excitement, with the main action packed into the four minutes of time added on. Xanthi took the lead in the 92nd with a Thodoris Vassilakakis goal, only for Ivica Majstorovic to make it 1-1 two minutes later, although Xanthi’s goalkeeper appeared to have been fouled. Today Asteras Tripolis hosts Kavala, Iraklis meets Aris and Panserraikos plays Olympiakos Volou. Olympiakos and Panathinaikos have 21 points, PAOK 17 and AEK 16, but Olympiakos has a game in hand.