A terrific goal by Marcus Berg was enough for Panathinaikos to beat arch rivals Olympiacos 1-0 in Athens on Sunday’s derby, while PAOK downed second-ranking Panionios with the same score in Thessaloniki.
Thanks to goalkeeper Stephanos Kapino who had some impressive saves, the Reds avoided a thrashing, as Panathinaikos players missed several chances to widen the score.
Nevertheless, the Piraeus champions maintained their six-point lead (54 pts) over Panionios (48 pts), five matches before the end of the season. PAOK maintained third place (46 pts) while Panathinaikos is fourth (45 pts).
AEK climbed to fifth place (43 pts) that leads to the playoffs after a 1-0 win over Atromitos in Peristeri on Saturday.
Sunday’s derby finished early as a Berg passed the ball to Viktor Klonaridis in the box whose shot was parried by Kapino and returned to Berg. The Swedish international striker unleashed a horizontal volley that landed in Kapino’s left side of the net.
The champions failed to react for the remaining of the game, with the Greens dominating in the first half. The second half substitutions of Olympiakos did little to affect the flow of the game to Panathinaikos’ favor.
“The score should have been far higher in our favor,” said Panathinaikos manager Marinos Ouzounidis, while caretaker coach Vassilis Vouzas admitted that his Olympiacos players “were tired and under substantial pressure recently.” The derby took place just three days after Olympiacos crashed out of the Europe League through a 4-1 loss at Besiktas.
Dimitris Pelkas scored PAOK’s goal with the last kick of stoppage time against 10-man Panionios to give the Thessaloniki team a 1-0 victory, but his obscene gesture while celebrating got him sent off.
AEK beat Atromitos, having captain Petros Mantalos score the game’s only goal at Peristeri on Saturday.
At the bottom of the division, the relegation battle has really heated up, with Larissa downing Panetolikos 1-0 at home to move up to 24 points, Asteras Tripolis failing to beat PAS Giannina at home (1-1) reaching 22 points, Levadiakos snatching a 2-2 draw at Xanthi to climb to 19 points, and bottom team Veria triumphing 4-0 over Kerkyra to join Iraklis on 16 points, with the last two going down.
Iraklis is visiting Platanias at Chania on Monday evening.