The Athens derby between AEK and Panathinaikos, at the start of the round-robin playoffs on Sunday, ended in a stalemate, a result that probably benefits leader Panathinaikos as well as fellow challengers Olympiakos and PAOK, that scored away wins on Sunday. The day’s results mean that the title race is now a four-horse one, more than ever, with Olympiakos and PAOK seeing their chances increase.
In a derby that was not as eventful as the previous ones in the league, AEK and Panathinaikos canceled each other out at the Agia Sophia OPAP Arena, AEK’s new ground that saw a draw for the first time ever.
Panathinaikos protested fiercely about a handball in the AEK penalty area and several bookable offences by Nordin Amrabat that the referee waved off. The Greens also issued a statement at half-time protesting against the referee’s decisions, saying that they diluted the playoffs.
Earlier on Sunday, Kostas Fortounis was the protagonist in Olympiakos’ easy 3-0 road win at Volos. He was involved in the goals scored by Pajtim Kasami and Cedric Bakambu, before netting a direct free kick himself.
PAOK renewed its bragging rights in Thessaloniki as it came from behind to beat crosstown rival Aris 2-1 away.
Aris led via Luis Palma, but PAOK scored twice in five minutes, through Stefan Schwab (penalty) and Andrija Zivkovic to win the game at the Kleanthis Vikelidis Stadium.
Nine rounds before the end of the playoffs, Panathinaikos has 62 points, AEK 60, Olympiakos has reached 59, PAOK climbed to 57, Aris is on 40 and Volos 39. The Greens need 25 points in the nine matches left to clinch the title.
In the playouts, Lamia scored a precious home win over PAS Giannina with a 2-0 score to drag its opponent into the relegation dogfight.
Levadiakos snatched an important point (1-1) at OFI Crete, Atromitos downed Ionikos 2-0 and Asteras Tripolis saw off Panetolikos 2-1.
With six games to play and the bottom two teams going down, Atromitos has 32, Panetolikos 29, Asteras 28, OFI 27, PAS Giannina 23, Lamia 20, and Levadiakos with Ionikos 18.