By Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
Olympiacos CFP earned a hard-fought victory against Ionikos FC to return to the Ethniki Kategoria summit after Panathinaikos FC and AEK Athens FC both dropped points.
Olympiacos had not won in five matches coming into the match, and looked on course for another frustrating afternoon when Marcelo Gutman gave the visitors the lead midway through the first half. But within six minutes of the restart, the home side overturned the deficit with goals from Nery Castillo and Predrag Djordjevic.
With the potentially crucial match against Panathinaikos next weekend, victory was a timely boost for Olympiacos, especially as they edged above their rivals, who were held 0-0 by struggling Aris Thessaloniki FC. Theofanis Gekas had the best opportunity of the game from the penalty spot on 28 minutes after Vangelis Pourliotopoulos had brought down Konstantinos Haralambidis but the goalkeeper made amends to save the striker’s effort.
Halkidona FC’s Christos Iliopoulos was more successful with his spot kick against AEK on Saturday, picking himself up to slot the ball past Dionysios Hiotis and give the home side the lead on 16 minutes. Halkidona immediately packed their defence and held of incessant AEK attacks until Konstantinos Katsouranis made it 1-1 midway through the second half.
AEK were unable to find a winner, however, and the result sees them drop to third, a point behind the leaders. PAOK FC leapfrogged Xanthi FC into fourth with a 1-0 victory, courtesy of Guy Armand Feutchine's goal just after the hour. Sixth-placed Egaleo defeated Iraklis FC by the same scoreline.
At the other end of the table, Kerkira FC remain bottom following a 3-1 loss to Panionios NFC. The home side’s best opportunity came from the penalty spot on the cusp of half-time. But Xenofontas Gitas' effort was weak and the miss seemed to rejuvenate the visitors, who opened a three-goal lead within 15 minutes of the restart. Elias Ioannou did pull one goal back just after the hour, but the result was never in doubt.
Kerkira remain three points adrift of nearest rivals Ergotelis FC, who also lost at the weekend, conceding an 88th-minute Nikos Machlas goal against ten-man OFI Crete FC. There was a late winner at Apollon Kalamarias FC too, where Kallithea FC scored two added-time goals to rescue a dramatic 2-1 victory.
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