PAOK have put themselves firmly in the title race after beating leaders Panathinaikos 2-1 in a pulsating game in Thessaloniki on Sunday.

The result means that PAOK are in joint-second place with Olympiakos on 50 points after 23 games, just two points behind Panathinaikos.

The defeat puts a huge dent in PAO’s title hopes, as the Greens have now seen an eight-point lead gradually disappear over the last few weeks.

Panathinaikos found it hard-going against an in-form PAOK at the Toumba Stadium. Uruguayan defender Pablo Garcia gave the home side the lead with a deft free-kick after 60 minutes.

The Super League’s top scorer Djibril Cisse equalized for the visitors in the 64th minute with a near-post finish but just four minutes later, substitute Zlatan Muslimovic made it 2-1 for PAOK with a skilful finish that condemned Panathinaikos to their second consecutive defeat.

AEK took a significant step towards securing fourth spot after beating Aris 1-0 at the Olympic Stadium in Athens and extending their difference over the fifth-placed Thessaloniki team to four points.

After an entertaining first-half – during which both sides missed good chances – finished goalless, midfielder Pantelis Kafes pounced in the first minute of the second-half to make it 1-0.

AEK held on for their third consecutive win – the first time they have managed that this season in the Super League.

There was also an exciting game in northwestern Greece, where Yiannina lost 3-2 to fellow struggler Panionios.

The visitors looked to be on their way to an easy three points after Edin Cocalic and Sito Riera scored in the 7th and 18th minute respectively to give the Athens side an early 2-0 lead.

But Yiannina hit back through former Olympiakos midfielder Costas Mendrinos on the half-hour mark and then Giorgos Saitiotis equalized from the penalty spot a minute before half-time.

The game looked to be heading for a draw that would not have suited either side when defender Yiannis Maniatis popped up with just five minutes left on the clock to give Panionios the vital three points.

The win moves the Athenians onto 28 points from 23 games, which means they are in 10th place. Yiannina remain second from bottom on 21 points.

Larissa suffered a major blow in their bid to escape relegation as they went down 2-0 at home to bottom side Panthrakikos.

The visitors’ goals came in the 75th and 77th minute from in-form Steve Belek. Larissa had earlier missed a penalty.

The defeat leaves Marinos Ouzounidis’s men on 24 points and just one place outside the relegation zone.

Panthrakikos, who had failed to get a win in the first half of the season, are now on 12 points.

In Sunday’s other game, Asteras Tripolis held Atromitos to a 0-0 draw in Athens despite playing with 10 men for the second-half after Sokratis Fytanidis was sent of for picking up two yellow cards.

Olympiakos handed the initiative in the title race back to Panathinaikos on Saturday after conceding a late goal in Crete to be held to a 1-1 draw by Ergotelis.

It was a case of two points lost for Olympiakos who could have gone to the top of the table albeit with a game extra.

The visitors looked to be on course just before the half-hour mark when Vassilis Torosidis opened the scoring after Lomana Lua Lua missed a penalty.

Despite Torosidis having encroached into the area by almost three feet, the referee allowed the goal to stand.

Ergotelis, who struck the post in the second-half, pushed the reigning champions until the end and were rewarded when Croatian striker Mario Budimir scored with just five minutes of normal time left.

In Thessaloniki, Iraklis will count themselves unlucky to have come away from their relegation battle against Levadiakos with just a point.

It was the visitors who took the lead in the 50th minute when Uruguayan international Nacho Gonzalez struck a looping long-range shot that flew into the net.

Iraklis’s frustration turned to relief in the 82nd minute when Panayiotis Kone scored from close range.

In Kavala, two goals from Nigerian striker Benjamin Onwuachi – one on the stroke of half-time and another in the 69th minute – secured another win for in-form Kavala at relegation-threatened Xanthi’s expense.