Marin Magic Marks Olympiacos Winter Champions
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 15
|Olympiacos||1 - 0||PAS Giannina|
Olympiacos will end 2017 in their familiar perch at the top of the SuperLeague after taking advantage of AEK’s slip-up 24 hours earlier and beating PAS Giannina 1-0 in their matchday 15 clash on Sunday.
German midfielder Marko Marin’s long-range strike just after the hour mark settled a scrappy game at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium, with both teams failing to sparkle on a chilly afternoon in Athens.
Olympiacos coach Takis Lemonis won’t care much about the performance, however, since what is important is that his players have recovered from their worst start in 30 years to climb to the top of the table in time for Christmas with 32 points.
The Erythrolefki are one point clear of title rivals AEK, who handed the Red and Whites the perfect early festive gift when they were held to a drab 0-0 home draw by struggling Apollon Smyrni on Saturday, and PAOK. Atromitos are only one points further adrift in fourth spot.
Olympiacos started brightly with Iran striker Karim Ansarifard having a “goal” chalked off just three minutes in for offside. After their bright start though the home side struggled to threaten Serafeim Giannikoglou in the PAS goal, looking increasingly over-anxious in their efforts to win the game.
But the nerves of both players and the home fans were settled in the 63rd minute when Marin found time and space on the edge of the penalty area to fire a brilliant shot past Giannikoglou.
The hosts should have made it 2-0 in the 73rd minute when Ansarifard again found the net, and this time the referee wrongly disallowed the goal. It was a bitter disappointment for the 27-year-old striker Ansarifard, whose powerful shot hit the bar and clearly landed behind the line before bouncing out to safety.
In the end it didn’t matter as Olympiacos still claimed the victory and a three-point haul which took them top of the standings and earn the title of “winter champions”.