By Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
Konstantinos Katsouranis converted a 71st-minute penalty as AEK Athens FC earned a 1-1 draw against Olympiacos CFP in the derby, but Panathinaikos FC failed to extend their lead at the Ethniki Kategoria summit as they were held by Iraklis FC.
Katsouranis' strike was a rare opening for an AEK side that were forced to soak up a great deal of pressure at an empty Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium - a punishment for crowd trouble against Ergotelis FC last month. Although denied their home support, Olympiacos dominated large swathes of the match and broke the deadlock with a Ioannis Okkas volley on 19 minutes.
Giovanni da Silva should have doubled the advantage on 50 minutes but was denied by Dionyssios Chiotis and it was to prove a costly miss when AEK equalised after Vladan Ivic had been brought down. AEK remain a point behind their opponents.
With their closest rivals both dropping points, Panathinaikos could have stretched their league lead to three points but failed to do so as they were held by a resilient Iraklis side. Playmakers Ezequiel Gonzalez and Lucian Sanmartean were both rested and without them, the home team lacked the attacking guile to pierce a resolute back line.
Despite the top three all drawing, the gap between third and fourth is now six points after Xanthi FC lost 2-1 in an eventful game at Halkidona FC in which both sides finished with ten men. Stavros Lambriakos had a golden opportunity to take a share of the spoils from the penalty spot with two minutes remaining but after he was forced to re-take twice, he failed to hit the target with the third attempt.
Dimitris Salpingidis' header proved enough for PAOK Thessaloniki FC to defeat Ergotelis and remain fifth, while Egaleo FC won by the same scoreline against another struggling side, Kirkira FC. Elsewhere, Aris Thessaloniki FC edged a five-goal thriller against OFI Crete FC, while the match between Kallithea FC and Ionikos FC ended goalless.
Panionios NFC looked on course for an easy victory as they went into the final 15 minutes of their match against Apollon Kalamarias FC with a three-goal cushion. But strikes from Konstantinos Spyropoulos, Altin Hadji and Triantafyllos Parmaxidis earned Kalamarias a share of the spoils.
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