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Greece round-up: Nikolaidis helps AEK regain top spot

Demis Nikolaidis scored twice as AEK Athens beat Ionikos to return to the top in Greece.

Greek international striker Demis Nikolaidis scored twice as AEK Athens roared back to the top of the Ethniki Katigoria with a 4-0 defeat of Ionikos.

Headed opener
Internazionale FC coach Héctor Cúper, whose club face AEK in the UEFA Cup later this month, watched from the stands and saw Nikolaidis head home a Michail Kassapis cross in the 19th minute.

Double trouble
The talismanic striker doubled the advantage with his 11th goal of the season 16 minutes after half-time and, nine minutes later, won a penalty after being brought down by Ionikos goalkeeper Foto Strakosha in the box. Midfield player Vasilios Tsartas stroked home the resulting spot-kick, before Yugoslavian forward Ilija Ilic capped a fine win with the fourth goal 20 minutes from time.

Olympiakos held
AEK climbed back to the summit by virtue of Olympiakos Piraeus FC being held to a 1-1 draw by Iraklis FC. Predrag Dordjevic had put the leaders ahead from the penalty spot after Alexandros Alexandris was fouled by Iraklis keeper Kostas Halkias ten minutes after half-time. But Ederson Fofonka latched on to Levan Kebadze’s pass to hit back for the home side on the hour.

Revival rolls on
Elsewhere, Panathinaikos FC's revival under Sergio Markarian continued but they needed a late header from defender Ioannis Goumas to take the points in a tight 2-1 win at home to Panionios GS. Angelos Basinas had given Panathinaikos the lead with a 34th-minute penalty and Ermin Siljac pulled mid-table Panionios level 18 minutes from time. But Greek international Goumas came to the Athens club's rescue, netting in the last minute to steal the points.

Cretian comeback
In the day’s other games, OFI Crete came from behind to secure their first away win since early November as two goals in the last four minutes gave them a 3-2 success over Ethnikos Asteras. Meanwhile, fifth-placed Xanthi FC stayed in contention for a possible UEFA Cup spot with a 3-0 win over lowly Akratitos at the Xanthis stadium and, in the evening game, Aigaleo overcame Panahaiki GC 2-1 through goals from Tassos Agritis and Nikos Nikolopoulos.