AEK was too good as it outclassed Olympiakos 1-2 away from home at Karaiskakis in Piraeus as the Greek Super League resumed after the Christmas break.
The ‘kitrino-mavri’ looked sharper than their hosts who despite enjoying most of the possession failed to fashion any meaningful chances.
Despite it’s off-field dramas, AEK’s starting 11 put behind them all of the pre-Christmas drama stamping its authority on the match with new signing Rafik Djebbour proving to be more than a handful for the reds.
AEK’s offensive agenda featured a counterattack and the Enosi looked certain to score when Carlos Araujo picked out Djebbour with plenty of space at his disposal.
The Algerian striker surged towards the Olympiakos net. Challenged by Nikopolidis, Djebbour looked to have rounded the Greek ‘keeper, but a determined Nikopolidis recovered as he slid to dispossess Djebbour and force a corner.
In fact, Djebbour should have opened the scoring but for an incorrect offside decision which would have seen him one-on-one with Antonis Nikopolidis in the Olympiakos goals.
Ironically, from the resultant free kick, Olympiakos quickly counter attacked and opened the scoring despite a furry of protests in farcical circumstances, which saw both benches practically empty in protest of the decision.
Avraam Papadopolos prodded the ball into the back of the net but Reds marksman Kostas Mitroglou who attempted to get a foot to the ball clouded the decision.
Mitroglou was almost one meter offside, a fact made doubly interesting by his slide, which almost collect AEK’s stand-in goalkeeper Arambatzis.
The referee initially disallowed the goal, but in intriguing circumstances, over-turned his decision after the fourth referee interfered in the ensuing melee.
AEK’s Argentine Nacho Scocco responded in the 33rd seeing justice done with a stunning goal that levelled proceedings.
Scocco connected on a gorgeous volley after a switch by Gustavo Manduca with the ball striking the back of the net. But there was more to come.
Scocco again embarrassed Nikopolidis after a seemingly innocuous looking free kick floated over the veteran custodian giving AEK a deserved lead despite the somewhat one-sided officiating.
In the second half AEK should have increased its lead further.
While it was Olympiakos who were in need of a goal after the interval, it was instead AEK who were attacking.
AEK registered many decent chances to stretch their lead early into the second frame as Olympiakos continued to look open in defence. First, Nikopolidis denied Carlos Araujo, while Pantelis Kafes sent his effort just wide of the Olympiakos goal.
At the other end, Olympiakos’ offensive endeavours were limited to long balls into the box. So with chances already at a premium, Olaf Mellberg’s headed miss on sixty-four minutes was even more devastating.
The same could be said of similar opportunities for Avraam Papadopoulos and Mitroglou a few minutes later as both sent their headed efforts wide of the goal.
After Vassilis Torosidis had a goal disallowed for a foul on Makos, Torosidis directed another header on goal in added time but a fine save by ‘keeper Giannis Arambatzis denied the Greece international, and confirmed the result.
The loss was Olympiakos’ second consecutive league loss following their 1-0 capitulation at Aris before Christmas.
The result was made doubly bitter for Reds fans as it allowed Panathinaikos to increase its own lead atop the Super League standings after their 4-1 win over in-form Crete side Ergotelis.
Despite the lop-sided score line, the Greens found themselves trailing at the ninth minute after to a remarkable goal by Michalis Frangoulakis following a slick team move.
But just before the half-time whistle Panathinaikos were in the lead after Djibril Cisse and Giorgos Karagounis had found the net.
In the second half Panathinaikos produced a stormy last 35 minutes to score two more times through Cisse and substitute Sebastian Leto.
Cisse has therefore reached 13 goals in 16 games in the league.
In the other games played on Wednesday, PAOK defeated Panionios 1-0 through a Vladan Ivic goal, who had earlier missed a penalty, Iraklis needed just 20 minutes of good football to beat bottom side Panthrakikos 3-1 at home, while PAS Yiannina and Xanthi produced a scoreless draw at Ioannina.