AEK were the big winners of the Athenian derby, defeating Panathinaikos 1-0 thanks to a goal by Sergio Araujo just after eight minutes.
The two teams brought their best to the Olympic Stadium, with the manager of the home side Massimo Carrera replacing the team’s top scorer Nelson Oliveira with the newly arrived during the January transfer window Argentine, while Petros Mantalos, Daniele Verde and Marko Livaja surrounded him up front in a 4-3-3 formation.
Meanwhile, at the other end, Giorgos Donis decided to change things up for Panathinaikos with the second game against PAOK for the Greek Cup just a few days away, using Anuar Tuchami and Uffe Bech from the start, while Argyris Kampetsis replaced Federico Macheda up front.
AEK came out into the pitch guns blazing and grabbed their opponents by the throat, giving them little breathing space.
By the time they knew what hit them, Panathinaikos were already trailing, when Araujo welcomed the ball nicely from outside the box and turned his body around to unleash a volley that ended up in the back of a helpless Sokratis Dioudis’ net.
The 28-year-old celebrated his goal wildly, in what was only his second appearance in the black-and-yellow since rejoining his former club.
Eventually, the visitors began to find their bearings and create their own chances, with Bouzoukis firing a shot from outside the area on the 17th minute, but despite their efforts, Donis’ players simply could not find a way inside the six-yard box.
Panathinaikos gained the advantage on ball possession and were the most dangerous of the two sides in the second half.
The Greek manager made several substitutions from early on in order to search for the equaliser but newcomer Macheda’s effort from close range stopped on defender Ognjen Vranjes.
AEK held on to find a crucial win, the first one they’ve had throughout the entire season in a derby.
Meanwhile, in Peristeri, Olympiacos were able to escape by the skin of their teeth against Atromitos thanks to a goal in injury time by Ahmed Hassan.
The red-and-whites seemed in control of the encounter and missed several key chances to put the game to rest from early on, with the highlight being Giorgos Masouras’ double effort on the 23rd minute that was thwarted by goalkeeper Balasz Megyeri.
What appeared to be yet another disappointing away-from-home appearance ended up becoming a triumph however, when Mathieu Valbuena’s deep cross found the head of Hassan to keep the table-leaders in their position.
The win was overshadowed by winger Hilal Soudani’s heavy ACL injury, who will sit out the rest of the season.
PAOK continued their pursuit as they had an easy afternoon at home against OFI, who they annihilated 4-0.
Chuba Akpom scored the first two goals of the game, first capitalising on Josip Misic’s missed penalty kick, then successfully converting one of his own.
Later two were provided by Lazaros Lamprou and Douglas Augusto.
GREEK SUPER LEAGUE ROUND 23 RESULTS
Asteras Tripolis-Aris 1-1 (26′ Fernandez – 13′ Velez)
Atromitos-Olympiacos 0-1 (90+1′ Hassan, 73′ Elabdellaoui)
PAOK-OFI 4-0 (50′, 60′ pen. Akpom, 66′ Lambrou, 83′ Douglas Augusto)
AEK-Panathinaikos 1-0 (8′ Araujo)
Panetolikos-Volos 1-1 (42′ Mounier, 90+2′ s.o. Gutierrez – 90+6′ Dimopoulos, 90+5′ s.o. Mantzis)