In the clash of Greek giants AEK and Olympiacos, it was Africans Aguibou Camara from Guinea and the prolific Moroccan Yousef El-Arabi who made the difference at the Athens Olympic Stadium.
The Guinean midfielder gave the Red-Whites a lighting start when he scored within the first minute of the game. AEK overcame the shock to even matters on the quarter-hour mark through Sergio Araujo, but there was no let up when El-Arabi offered a reply in the 34th minute to give Olympiacos the lead.
In the second half, El-Arabi struck again for his second goal, 70 minutes into the game.
Mady Camara could have put the Legend out of sight when his shot hit the AEK post just minutes later.
Araujo again provided AEK with a lifeline when he found the net with just over 10 minutes to go. But for all the possession AEK enjoyed throughout the match (68 percent) and sheer effort (447 passes completed to their opponents’ 219), it was not to be their night.
The result gives Olympiacos a six-point lead on their nearest and latest opponents, AEK. PAOK lie in third, just a point behind AEK. Had things gone to plan, the Thessaloniki side could have leapt above AEK but for the 2-0 shock loss they suffered to bottom-feeders Atromitos.
Apollon Smyrni replaced Atromitos at the bottom on goal difference, when they went down 1-0 to hosts Panetolikos.
Visitors to Thessaloniki, PAS Giannina proved unwelcome guests with their 5-0 mauling of Aris. It is a testimony of the team’s quality that there were five different players who each scored in Saturday’s game.
The result saw the Ajax of Epirus climb to fourth on the ladder on 16 points, just three behind third-placed PAOK.
OFI went home to Heraklion happy after beating Volos 2-0 yesterday. Ionikos drew 1-1 with Asteras Tripoli on Saturday. Panathinaikos travel to Lamia to play tonight.
Olympiacos host Fenerbache at the Karaiskakis Stadium on Friday, 7am (AEST) in the second-last game in Group D of the Europa League. The Athens team is second in the group on six points with Fenerbache just a point behind. Eintracht Frankfurt ride at the top on 10 points.