By Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
Panathinaikos FC are still on course to reclaim their Ethniki Kategoria title after a hard-fought 3-1 win at Ergotelis FC but AEK Athens FC remain hot on their heels after defeating high-flying Xanthi FC 2-1.
Fresh from last weekend's derby victory against Olympiacos CFP, Panathinaikos began the match in Heraklion in bright fashion and broke the deadlock on 25 minutes when Theofanis Gekas converted Dimitrios Papadopoulos' cross. But a fine solo effort from Jean-Mary Sylla made it 1-1 on the cusp of half-time as the home side threatened to push the champions.
Although Panathinaikos regained the advantage through Mihalis Konstantinou ten minutes after the interval, it took a brilliant save from their goalkeeper Mario Galinovic to deny Patrick Ogunsoto a second equaliser on 71 minutes. Ezequiel González calmed the visitors’ nerves by doubling the advantage four minutes later.
The win means Panathinaikos retain their one-point lead at the summit after second-placed AEK edged an eventful encounter against Xanthi in the Greek capital. Alessandro Soares opened the scoring midway through the first half but two penalties in the five minutes before the interval looked to have turned the match upside down.
On 41 minutes Luciano converted from the spot after Bruno Alves had handballed to draw the visitors level and although there was still time for AEK to restore their lead, Konstantinos Katsouranis' spot-kick was saved by Petr Pizanowski. However, their disappointment was forgotten with 20 seconds of the restart when Júlio César scored after a superb run.
The win keeps AEK in championship contention with just four matches remaining, and Olymiacos could also challenge after second-half goals from Nery Alberto Castillo and Rivaldo gave the side a 2-0 win against Apollon Kalamarias FC to stay three points behind Panathinaikos.
PAOK FC sidle into fourth after coming from behind to record a convincing 4-1 victory against OFI Crete, with Dimitris Salpingidis scoring twice. The result leaves OFI 12th, but 13th-placed Aris Thessaloniki FC failed to capitalise as they were defeated 2-1 by Egaleo FC.
Panionios NFC lost by the same scoreline at home against Iraklis FC after playing over 60 minutes with ten men following Petr Vlcek’s dismissal. Elsewhere, Ionikos FC edged a 1-0 win at Halkidona FC in the Neapoli derby, while Kerkira FC lost 1-0 against Kallithea FC.
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