SPORTS

Title-holder Olympiakos gets off to a strong start

With a second-half goal by Stelios Yiannakopoulos, defending champions Olympiakos Piraeus beat OFI in Crete yesterday to share the top spot in Greece’s first-division soccer league. It was Olympiakos’s second straight victory in the league that started last week. In the round’s major upset, Proodeftiki Korydallos beat Panathinaikos 1-0 at the Leoforos Alaxandras stadium, home ground of the Athens club. Angry Panathinaikos fans gathered outside the stadium before being dispersed by riot police. The Athens club remains pointless after its second straight loss, with the future of Portuguese coach Fernando Santos in doubt. Last week, Panathinaikos was trounced by PAOK 4-1 in Thessaloniki. AEK Athens, held to a 1-1 draw at Aegaleo last week, beat Ioannina 3-1 at home. Olympiakos now has six points, level with Proodeftiki, Aris, and Iraklis. Playing away, PAOK converted an injury-time penalty kick to draw 1-1 with Xanthi. In other games it was: Kallithea 0, Akratitos 2; Panachaiki 0, Iraklis 2. A game between Ionikos – which fielded a squad including just one Greek player – and Aegaleo, commenced later last night. On Saturday, Aris defeated Panionios 1-0. Olympiakos appeared disorganized in the first half, allowing OFI to launch a series of attacks. OFI’s best chance came in the 22nd minute, with a shot by Costas Kiassos that was cleared off the line by a defender. In the 44th a corner kick by Costa Rican striker Roland Gomez hit Dimitris Eleftheropoulos’s crossbar. Olympiakos’s Lambros Houtos, who replaced Alexis Alexandris in the second half, nearly scored in the 61st, when his shot slid past the left post of goalie Costas Haniotakis. In the 73rd, Yiannakopoulos marked the game’s winner off a precision cross from Stelios Venetidis. Haniotakis averted another goal, blocking a blistering shot by Par Zetterberg in the 81st. In Athens, AEK went ahead with Ilja Ivic off a center from Vassilis Tsartas in the 19th. A minute earlier, Tsartas failed to score from the penalty spot when Ioannina goalie Theodoros Gitkos saved the shot. Tsartas made it 2-0 with another penalty in the 44th and Demis Nikolaidis stretched it to 3-0 four minutes later. Fontas Gitas got the consolation goal with a penalty in the 59th. Proodeftiki stunned Panathinaikos, scoring in the 5th minute with Giorgos Poulopoulos after a melee in front of the Athens club’s goalmouth. The rest of the game saw Panathinaikos launching successive attacks, but its players were out of focus. Goalie Thanassis Koys made a couple of excellent saves to preserve the win. The game was played at an empty stadium, one of Panathinaikos’s four home games with a spectator ban as punishment for fan violence last season.