Week seven of the Greek Super League saw plenty of exciting fixtures take place.
High flying Panionios took on struggling champions Olympiacos, league leaders AEK looked to pick up an important win against Xanthi, and Panathinaikos were hoping to earn a second consecutive victory at the Apostolos Nikolaidis Stadium.
Olympiacos grab a hard-fought three points
Panionios hosted Olympiacos on Saturday evening, a match which promised to be key for both sides. Panionios had the chance to close in on first place, while Olympiacos desperately needed a victory to get back on track.
Before the start of the season, no one expected Panionios to be higher up in the standings than Olympiacos, but the reigning champions are in the midst of a worrying crisis. The Piraeus outfit sacked former boss Besnik Hasi after a dramatic loss to AEK Athens, however replacement Takis Lemonis hasn’t had the desired effect.
A 0:1 defeat against Atromitos two weeks ago left Olympiacos in dire straits, with many starting to write them off in the title race.
Things didn’t get off to a good start against Panionios either, as Srdan Spiridonovic slotted past Silvio Proto to give the home team an early lead. Olympiacos were up against it, but they showed their mettle to strike back.
Pape Abou Cisse headed in an equaliser, before Iranian striker Karim Ansarifard scored twice in quick succession. Nevertheless, the drama was just getting started.
In an amazing turn of events, Panionios got back on level terms with two goals in the final ten minutes. Srdan Spiridonovic converted a penalty, and Fiorin Durmisaj then beat Silvio Proto when clean through.
However, just seconds later, Olympiacos won the match with a highly contentious penalty. Kostas Fortounis scored from the spot after he was bowled over, a decision which Panionios were rightly furious about.
Olympiacos hung on to the 4:3 win though, rising to fifth place in the table.
PAOK win, AEK draw
Next up – PAOK Thessaloniki versus PAS Lamia, a game which could potentially send PAOK top if other results went their way.
They had to play in front of an empty Toumba Stadium for the fourth time this season, but that didn’t stop them from putting their opponents to the sword.
Marin Leovac and Aleksandar Prijovic scored from close range to hand PAOK a 2:0 advantage after half-time, and it could have been more if not for Lamia goalkeeper Nikos Papadopoulos. Dimitris Pelkas and Aleksandar Prijovic made the game safe for PAOK with a couple of classy goals in the second half, lifting the Thessaloniki club to first place.
PAOK’s win put the pressure on AEK Athens. AEK have been Greece’s stand-out team this season, but they showed signs of waning during a lackluster 0:2 defeat to Asteras Tripolis last time out. AEK were faced with another tricky tie too, travelling to Xanthi.
The hosts, who had already held Olympiacos to a draw at home, took a first half lead with a stunning free kick. Brito curled a beautiful effort over the AEK wall, leaving goalkeeper Giannis Anestis glued to the spot.
AEK duly threw everything at their opponents in the second half, but their pressure was only good enough for an Ognjen Vranjes equaliser with two minutes to go. 1:1 in Xanthi, a draw which takes AEK down to second spot.
Panathinaikos edge out AEL
On Monday, Panathinaikos hosted AEL Larissa in the Greek capital.
Panathinaikos have been through the mill this season, especially with their well-documented financial issues. Poor form had left the Greens languishing in the bottom four positions, but they wanted to build on a 2:0 win against PAS Giannina two weekends ago.
Following a goalless first 45, Lucas Villafanez scored with a penalty on 50 minutes after Guillermo Molins had been shoved to the floor. However, lowly AEL were given a helping hand when Panathinaikos’ Yacouba Sylla was shown his second yellow card.
The visitors immediately took full advantage, as substitute Emanuel Perrone glanced a free kick beyond Odisseas Vlachodimos with the faintest of touches.
Incredibly, Panathinaikos forward Omri Altman was then given a straight red card for kicking an AEL player in the head. Emanuel Perrone thought that he had won the game for AEL, but his neat lob over the goalkeeper was wrongly disallowed for offside.
As it so often happens in football, that proved to be the turning point. Deep in injury time, Oscar Hiljemark’s looping cross somehow found its way into the net, handing nine-man Panathinaikos a thrilling 2:1 victory at the death.
In other results, PAS Giannina defeated stuttering Platanias 3:1, Atromitos saw off the challenge of Asteras 1:0, Apollon played out a dull 0:0 draw with Kerkyra, and the impressive Levadiakos beat Panetolikos 1:0.
Written by Shaun Nicolaides
Follow Shaun on Twitter @zenitfan93
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