THESSALONIKI – Dominant Greek soccer power Panathinaikos closed in on a European Champions league spot after beating PAOK, 1-0 in Greek Super League play.
The winning, and only, goal came from Stathis Tavlaridis, putting the Greens back in position for another go-round in European play next season, although they haven’t fared well there in recent years.
The stands were nearly empty in the home field’s own stadium where the only action came on Tavlaridis’ score in the 43d minute. Soccer doesn’t give the exact time of goals.
Panathinaikos almost was tied but English goalkeeper Luke Steele bounced out a Ricardo Costa header in the first half and there was no rebound attempt.
With PAOK stumbling badly, the few fans in the stands mocked their own team and coach Giorgos Georgiadis admitted the team is in a bad way. Critics said many Greek soccer games are fixed.
In the other game, Atromitos and Asteras Tripolis played a listless 0-0 draw at Peristeri.
At the halfway point of the play-offs Panathinaikos has 11 points, PAOK has four, Asteras has three and Atromitos two as the Greens are running away with it.
On June 1 Panathinaikos hosts PAOK in Athens and needs just one point to clinch the top spot in the mini-league, while Asteras Tripolis entertains Atromitos.