The race for Greece’s second Champions League spot looks like it will go down to the wire after PAOK bounced back to the top of the Super League playoff table on Wednesday by beating AEK 2-1 in Thessaloniki, while Panathinaikos beat Olympiakos Volou 3-0 at home.
With two rounds of games remaining, PAOK has nine points, AEK is second with eight, Panathinaikos moved up to seven and Olympiakos Volou has three.
AEK took the lead 14 minutes into the match at the Toumba Stadium with a Nacho Scocco strike from almost 40 meters away that bounced twice before getting the better of PAOK keeper Costas Chalkias.
The equalizer came in the 29th minute, courtesy of a Pablo Garcia free kick from just outside the box that rolled into the AEK net.
PAOK’s first-half comeback was completed within eight minutes as Victor Vitolo converted a penalty to make it 2-1.
Grigoris Makos was sent off in the 73rd minute, leaving AEK with 10 men after a tussle with PAOK’s Lino. Garcia also received his marching orders after punching AEK’s Michel during injury time.
At the Olympic Stadium in Athens, Panathinaikos grabbed its first win in the playoffs to stay in with a chance of snatching the top spot.
Luis Garcia gave Panathinaikos the lead in the 27th minute, with the former Liverpool star controlling the ball with his head before slotting it past the visitors’ keeper Eldin Jakupovic.
Super League top scorer Djibril Cisse made it 2-0 for Panathinaikos in the 57th by unleashing a fearsome shot from inside the box after a Sebastian Leto cross from the left.
Then Cisse turned from scorer to provider in the 84th minute as he slid the ball across the edge of the box to Costas Katsouranis, who powered it into the Olympiakos Volou net.
The two teams ended the match with 10 men apiece as Katsouranis and Ilias Solakis sought to get a second yellow card each in the dying minutes so as to get a suspension for only one game and not two, given that they had completed seven bookings.