Soccer league’s return is marred by crowd violence

With new coach Sergio Markarian on the bench, Panathinaikos beat Aris 3-2 on Sunday, as Greek soccer resumed after a monthlong break, but the weekend was marred by fan violence. Soccer league matches had been interrupted for almost a month following the collapse of a pay-TV channel which broadcast games and the government’s refusal to cover financial losses estimated at 35 million euros annually. In the round’s major game on Saturday between PAOK and defending champion Olympiakos at Thessaloniki, PAOK fans threw various items onto the pitch, injuring a linesman in the head. Referee Giorgos Douros had to interrupt play in the 66th minute. He resumed it 27 minutes later but only after warning that he would call the match off if there was any more violence. The match ended 1-1. Panathinaikos’s victory is only the second for the Athens club in five rounds. Panathinaikos is now seven points behind league leader AEK. AEK beat Kallithea 1-0 on Saturday to top the league outright with 13 points, two ahead of Olympiakos. Panathinaikos’s game, as well as that of Iraklis against Akratitos, were played before empty seats as punishment for previous fan violence. In other games it was: Aegaleo 0, Panionios 0; Ioannina 3, Panachaiki 0; Proodeftiki 0, OFI 0; Ionikos 0, Xanthi 0 and Iraklis 1, Akratitos 0. Panathinaikos took an early lead with Nikos Lymberopoulos off a cross from Michalis Constantinou in the fifth minute. Aris leveled in the 16th with an own goal. But two minutes later, Angelos Bassinas again gave Panathinaikos the lead off a free kick, and Constantinou made it 3-1 in the 31st. Croatian midfielder Josip Simic exploited a defensive error in the 58th to make the final result 3-2. Markarian coached Panathinaikos for part of the last season and took the club to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. He replaced Portugal’s Fernando Santos, who was fired after five months. On Saturday, Olympiakos opened scoring with a penalty kick taken by Predrag Djordjevic in the 40th. PAOK leveled in the 56th, also with a penalty, by Giorgos Georgiadis. Also on Saturday, AEK took three points with a sole goal from a seventh-minute penalty by Vassilis Tsartas. (AP)