A solitary goal was enough for AEK to record their fifth consecutive victory and leapfrog Panathinaikos into third place in the Super League on Saturday with a 1-0 win over OFI Crete at OAKA.
Despite hitting the woodwork earlier, Pentelis Kafes found the back of the net after just 23 minutes.
The league’s top scorer Ismael Blanco was the protagonist when he sent through a dangerous cross from the left only but OFI’s custodian was able to parry the ball only as far as Kafes at the edge of the box.
Kafes seized the opportunity of virtually an empty net to give AEK their match winning lead.
AEK failed to bury the Crete side despite their numerous first half chances and had to withstand a late OFI surge as Zdravko Popovic saw an effort come back off the woodwork three minutes from time.
OFI are rooted to the foot of the table, second last and look like heading to the ‘B Ethniki’ second division for the first time in 33 years.
OFI have just 20 points after 26 matches, and are eight points away from safety.
AEK held on for their fifth successive victory which takes them to 50 points – level with Panathinaikos who are away to relegated Thrasyvoulos Filis on Sunday.
Because of their better head to head record this season – a 2-1 home win followed by a goalless draw – AEK leapfrog Panathinaikos into third place for at least 24 hours.
More pertinent is the fact that they gained two points on PAOK who were held to a 0-0 draw away at Larissa.
PAOK are in second for the moment with 51 points but a PAO win will see the greens leapfrog both AEK and PAOK.
With four games to go, the race for the runners-up spot is proving a lot interesting than the destination of the championship itself which, since November, has been heading to Piraeus.
In the other game played on Saturday, Xanthi switched places with Aris, moving up to sixth place, after beating the Thessaloniki side 1-0.
The only goal of the game came from Victor Agali ten minutes from time.