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Greece round-up: Olympiakos win derby thriller

Published: Sunday 21 April 2002, 0.59CET
Olympiakos Piraeus FC joined AEK Athens at the top after edging a thrilling capital derby 4-3.

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Published: Sunday 21 April 2002, 0.59CET

Greece round-up: Olympiakos win derby thriller

Olympiakos Piraeus FC joined AEK Athens at the top after edging a thrilling capital derby 4-3.
Olympiakos Piraeus FC wrested the title initiative from AEK Athens after edging a thrilling capital derby 4-3 at the OAKA Spiros Louis stadium.

Tight at the top
The victory leaves the two clubs tied on 55 points - with Panathinaikos FC third following their 3-1 defeat of Xanthi FC - going into the last match of the season. But it is Olympiakos who are in the ascendancy as results against each other, not goal difference, is the deciding factor if clubs are locked together after 26 games.

Final matches
Panagiotis Lemonis's side have won both derbies this term and will secure a sixth straight Ethniki Katigoria crown with an away win at FC Aris Thessaloniki. AEK, who entertain FC PAOK Thessaloniki, will have to better Olympiakos's result if they are to claim their first championship in eight years.

Classic match
It was a classic match which thrilled the capacity crowd from the start. Olympiakos started brightly, with AEK content to play on the break. Christos Patsatzoglou and Par Zetterberg both went close for the home side in the opening ten minutes but it was AEK who struck first with a 24th-minute penalty from Vassilios Tsartas after he was felled by Stylianos Giannakopoulos.

Goal of the season?
Olympiakos came back strongly to equalise through Alexios Alexandris's goal of the season contender - a volley past a stunned Dionissios Hiotis - shortly before half-time. Suitably buoyed, Olympiakos came out fighting after the break and went ahead on 52 minutes through a Patsatzoglou header.

In dreamland
And by the time Alexandris capitalised on a mix-up between Hiotis and Rodrigo Ramos to make it 3-1, the home fans were in dreamland. AEK were thrown a lifeline in the 76th minute, however, when Angelos Georgiou brought down Sotirios Konstantinidis and Tsartas despatched his second penalty with ease.

Late consolation
Ilia Ivic and Tsartas then wasted glorious chances to restore parity before Olympiakos registered the crucial sixth goal - Djordjevic making it 4-2 following a superb ball from Ze Elias. AEK scored again in added time, Vassilios Lakis's shot deflecting in off Georgios Anatolakis, but it was to prove the final act of an enthralling game.

Lemonis cautious
A delighted Lemonis said afterwards: "It was a match that was won by the heart of the champion. For us it was the match of the year, given the pressure we were under. But the championship is not over yet. We have to beat Aris and celebrate the championship accordingly." Fernando Santos, AEK's Portuguese coach was very brief in his assessment, saying: "Olympiakos justified the win. They showed more heart and took advantage of our mistakes."

UEFA Champions League spot
Panathinaikos must win their two remaining games and hope one of the top two slip up to claim a UEFA Champions League place. They fell behind today when Stavros Lambriakos scored for Xanthi in the 24th minute but were back on terms eight minutes later through the 38-year-old Krystof Warzycha. Miltiadis Sapanis (49) and Warzycha (75) completed the scoring after the break.

Last updated: 21/04/02 21.52CET

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