Sunday evening’s big “Derby of the Eternal Enemies” clash between Panathinaikos and Olympiacos was stopped and then abandoned after 70 minutes with Olympiacos leading 1-0 due to clashes outside the stadium between fans and riot police.

Olympiacos had taken the lead at the Olympic Stadium thanks to Miguel Angel Guerrero’s 53rd-minute goal in what was a tightly-contested and absorbing encounter played at a fast pace by both teams.

But as huge clouds of smoke began to waft into the stadium with 20 minutes left, match referee Marcus Fritz decided to stop the game for the second time. The match had already been stopped after five minutes to disperse a handful of Greens fans who had approached the Olympiacos bench.

The smoke, later on, was caused by clashes between law enforcement authorities and groups of hooligans involving molotovs rocks and other objects outside the ground. This prompted the use of tear gas by police which wafted into the stadium causing breathing problems for the fans inside as well as the players on the pitch.

After a long delay of 45 minutes Fritz appeared on the pitch to check the situation and on seeing that not all of the stadium had been evacuated the German referee decided to officially abandon the match.

Although it is yet to be confirmed, such a decision according to SuperLeague rules means that the team which was at fault for their fans’ behavior means that they will automatically lose 3-0, and may also be subject to a points deduction.

Before all the drama off the pitch, Guerrero’s solitary goal eight minutes into the second half had proved the difference between the two fierce Athenian rivals as Pedro Martin’s Thrylos looked on course to claim all three points to stay within seven points of PAOK.

Giorgos Donis’ youthful Panathinaikos team, who have suffered a dip in form since the turn of the year, battled manfully for long spells and missed several good chances to get on the scoresheet.

THE MATCH

The match, which was the headline fixture of Matchday 25, kicked off amid a tasty atmosphere and things got heated around the fifth minute when a small group of Panathinaikos fans got past security and made their way to the Olympiacos bench.

A scuffle ensued before police forces moved in to disperse the fans and send them back to the stands. The incident caused match referee Marcus Fritz to stop the match, which got back underway again some 10 minutes later.

And a typically frenetic opening half unfolded, with the first clear scoring chance falling to Panathinaikos after 24 minutes with captain Dimitris Kourbelis, who had a powerful header brilliantly saved by Jose Sa in the Olympiacos goal.

Olympiacos responded with a sustained spell of pressure and then six minutes later were unlucky not to score themselves when Andreas Bouchalakis let fly with a long-range shot which was well saved by Panathinaikos goalkeeper Sokratis Dioudis.

The rebound then fell kindly for Giorgos Masouras but Olympiacos’ Greek forward missed the target with his shot.

Panathinaikos were by no means overawed by the visitors’ spell of pressure, however, and in a match which began to become more open, the Greens went close as half-time approached when Spanish defender Emanuel Insua hit a first-time effort wide.

Olympiacos finished the half the stronger side though and should have made more of two good chances they had in successive just before the half-time whistle blew. First Dioudis produced a superb save to deny Miguel Angel Guerrero who was clean through on goal, and then Kostas Fortounis’ volley beat Dioudis but flashed narrowly over the crossbar.

Olympiacos started the second half looking to make a breakthrough and just five minutes in, Daniel Podence sent a lofted effort just wide of Dioudis’ goal from a Masouras’ cross from the right.

Three minutes later and Olympiacos finally took a deserved lead when Guerrero planted a superb header into the bottom right corner of Dioudis’ goal from Leonardo Koutris’ curling left-wing cross.

The match was suddenly stopped again in the 70th minute as smoke began to waft into the stadium from tear gas which was being used by police to disperse hooligans causing trouble outside the stadium pelting authorities with molotovs, rocks and other objects.

Hordes of fans were moved to other parts of the ground but when the players of both teams disappeared down the dressing rooms and stayed there for over 20 minutes the whole stadium began to empty with few fans anticipating that the match would restart.

And so it proved as finally after a total delay of over 45 minutes the match was abandoned.

by Graham Wood

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