By Vassiliki Papantonopoulou
Rivaldo was again on target as Olympiacos CFP reclaimed the Hellenic National League with a narrow 1-0 win against Iraklis FC.
The win completed a triumphant few days for the club, who lifted the Greek Cup after a 3-0 victory against Aris Thessaloniki FC on Saturday. Brazilian Rivaldo was inspirational then, and so it proved again as his solo effort just after the hour proved enough to seal an eighth title in nine years.
Until Rivaldo's goal the visitors had struggled to break down a stubborn Iraklis rearguard, finding goalkeeper Georgios Abaris in superb form. Rivaldo, Yannis Okkas and Giannis Taralidis were all denied before the side finally found a way through on 61 minutes. Iraklis threatened a comeback, and Abdoulaye Keita shot just wide, but Olympiacos hung on seal the double - their first since 1999.
Had Iraklis managed to level, 2003/04 champions Panathinaikos FC were poised to capitalise after a 2-1 win against OFI Crete FC. Theofanis Gekas and the excellent Mihalis Konstantinou were both on target, scoring either side of Nikos Machlas' equaliser two minutes after the restart, as the side sealed second place and a berth in the third qualifying round of next season's UEFA Champions League.
AEK Athens FC had already guaranteed themselves a UEFA Cup spot and finished their campaign with an impressive-looking 3-0 victory against Apollon Kalamarias FC. But the scoreline belied a difficult encounter, which was still goalless with 20 minutes remaining before Julio César, Simos Krassas and Nikos Liberopoulos all struck late on.
Xanthi FC will join AEK in the UEFA Cup after an 85th-minue strike from Stelian Carabas earned a 1-1 draw against Ionikos FC to move past PAOK Thessaloniki FC into fourth. The Salonika outfit also scored late in their match against Egaleo, although it proved nothing but a consolation as a Nikolaos Nikolopoulos hat-trick earned the visitors a 4-2 win.
Aris bow out
PAOK will nevertheless line up in next season's UEFA Cup, alongside Greek Cup finalists Aris, who were defeated 3-1 by Kallithea FC. Following a three-point deduction last week, Aris were already relegated and the other sides that will join them, Kerkira FC and Ergotelis FC, also ended their seasons in defeat, against Halkidona and Panionios NFC respectively. Larissa FC, Levadiakos FC and Akratitos FC will replace the trio in the top flight.
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