AEK blew the chance to get back in the title race on Sunday as they lost 1-0 to Panionios after being reduced to 10 men in the first half.

The Yellows’ revival under new coach Manuel Jimenez came to a halt at the Nea Smyrni Stadium in Athens in somewhat controversial circumstances.

The game hinged on the 36th minute sending off of Uruguayan defender Claudio Dadomo.

After appearing to be fouled by a Panionios player and while lying on the floor, the AEK man stretched out his leg and tripped an opponent.

A red card seemed harsh punishment for such a soft foul.

The winning goal came five minutes into the second half when Sito Riera, brother of Olympiakos’s Albert, produced a wonderful flicked header to beat Sebastian Saja in the AEK goal.

The finish made up for Riera’s penalty miss in the first half and gave managerless Panionios a much needed victory.

The defeat leaves AEK stuck on 13 points from eight games – five points behind leaders Olympiakos.

AEK were joined on 13 points by Asteras Tripolis who picked up an impressive 2-1 win at Kerkyra, who are still playing their home games in Patra.

Asteras got their win the hard way as well, as they were 1-0 down until the 79th minute.

Thanassis Tsigas had put the home side ahead but late goals from Ruben Pulido and Nigerian midfielder Chigozie Udoji gave Vangelis Vlachos’s men another win.

PAOK were also 2-1 winners away from home, also coming from 1-0 down to win the game at Ergotelis.

The Cretan side took the lead through Mario Budomir after 16 minutes. Dimitris Salpigidis equalized for the visitors on 35 minutes.

The game was decided in a frenetic finale when Ergotelis had Silva Junior sent off in the 83rd minute before Pablo Contreras scored the winner in the fourth minute of injury time from what seemed to be an offside position.

PAOK join Iraklis in mid-table safety on 11 points. The Thessaloniki side were held to a 0-0 home draw by Olympiakos Volou, who appear to be holding their own in the top flight.

Another newly-promoted side, Panserraikos, also showed that they are getting to grips with the Super League as they notched up just their second win of the season with a 1-0 victory over Kavala.

Sales Leozinho got the only goal in the 10th minute.

Djibril Cisse was the hero for the Greens after scoring both of the goals in the home side’s win.

The Frenchman was hoisted onto the shoulders of fans and carried off the pitch at the end of the game.

After a Kevin Mirallas wonder strike in the first half, it looked like there would be little to celebrate for Panathinaikos, who risked slipping seven points behind Olympiakos if they lost the game.

The young Belgian striker, who has impressed since joining the Reds in the summer, picked up the ball on the right win in the 38th minute and weaved his way past three PAO defenders before unleashing a low drive from outside the area that Alexis Tzorvas could not stop.

Up to that point, the game had been pretty evenly shared with neither side creating any major chances.

Panathinaikos, with the added pressure of a crowd of 55,000 fervent home fans watching, showed great character to get back into the game in the 58th minute when Lazaros Christodoulopoulos crossed from the right and Cisse met the ball with a first-time volley.

The game was decided five minutes later when the ball was played into the box and Cisse was tripped by defender Avraam Papadopoulos.

Although the Frenchman was looking for a chance to go down, the Greece international made clear contact with the striker’s legs and not the ball.

Papadopoulos was given a straight red card as it was deemed a goal-scoring opportunity and Cisse tucked away the penalty to cement his legendary status among Panathinaikos fans.

However, the victory will also go a long way to rehabilitating coach Nikos Nioplias’s reputation at the Athens club. He decided to leave experienced players like Giorgos Karagounis, Josu Sarriegi and Luis Garcia on the bench and gave starts to Cedric Kante, Damien Plessis and Antonis Petropoulos.

Also, Nioplias was not afraid to change things at half time. He brought on Garcia for Sydney Govou and Stergos Marinos for Costas Katsouranis. At 2-1, Simao replaced Plessis.

For Nioplias’s opposite number, Ernesto Valverde, the defeat will be seen as a blip in the team’s general progress, especially given the fact that the game was decided by a penalty decision that led to the Reds finishing the game with 10 men.

The result means that Olympiakos still top the Super League with 18 points after eight points. Panathinaikos have 17 and AEK are on 13 with a game less.
In Saturday’s other games, Aris returned to winning ways thanks to two first half goals against Atromitos in Thessaloniki. Javito and Nikos Lazaridis were on target for the yellows.

Aris moved into fourth place on 12 points.

There was also a home win for Larissa, who beat Xanthi 3-0. Uruguayan midfielder Fabian Canobbio got two – one from the penalty spot – and Matias Iglesias got the other with a powerful shot. The win moves Larissa way from the relegation zone. The Thessaly club is now in 10th place with nine points.