Ansarifard at the double as Olympiacos sweep aside Xanthi
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 18
|Olympiacos||3 - 0||Xanthi|
|Ansarifard (P) 26',57'
Olympiacos chalked up their ninth win in a row with a straightforward 3-0 home victory over 10-man Xanthi at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium thanks to a double strike from Iran striker Karim Ansarifard and a further goal from Kostas Fortounis.
Ansarifard was on target in the 26th and 57th minutes for Oscar Garcia’s SuperLeague leaders, while Greece midfielder Fortounis, who had also won the penalty, pounced on a defensive mistake by Xanthi’s backline to slot home a third with 21 minutes left.
Since losing 1-0 to eternal rivals Panathinaikos in the Athens derby back in October, the Erythrolefki have never looked back, winning nine games in a row and re-establishing themselves as favorites for yet another domestic league title.
The win restored their single-point advantage over PAOK at the summit, the reigning champions having collected 41 points to second-placed PAOK’s 40. AEK are third with 38 points, while fourth-placed Atromitos are a further four points further behind.
Olympiacos threatened to run riot in a powerful first half display, and it was with much relief that Xanthi went in at half-time only 1-0 behind after Ansarifard converted a 26th-minute penalty after Fortounis had been impeded by Vasilis Fasidis.
The 27-year-old Iran international Ansarifard made it 2-0 three minutes before hour mark with a header from an excellent Diogo Figueiras cross, and the floodgates look set to open after the visitors also had Spanish defender Jorge Casado sent off for collecting two yellow cards in the space of three minutes at the 59th minute mark.
But Xanthi battled manfully to keep the goal hungry hosts at bay, with the red and whites only managing to add one more goal to their tally after Xanthi defender Dimitris Meliopoulos gifted possession to Fortounis who then slotted past Živko Živković.
Olmypiacos never looked in danger of picking up anything less than three points in this one-sided matchday 18 encounter, with Xanthi’s Serbian goalkeeper Živković called upon several times in the opening half to deny the home side.
Togo midfielder Alaixys Romao also hit the woodwork as Olympiacos’ efforts to boost their goal scored column were thwarted.
On another night, the Piraeus giants might have scored six or seven goals, but in the end Garcia and his players would have been pleased with another easy three points to go back to the top and send their fanatical fans home happy.