- Associated Press - Sunday, February 18, 2018

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - AEK scored all its goals in a dominant first half to beat Xanthi 4-0 in the Greek league on Sunday.

Defender Ognjen Vranjes had a hat trick and was assisted on two of his goals by Tassos Bakasetas, who added AEK’s fourth.

The win kept AEK within two points of league leader PAOK, 2-0 winner at Lamia on Saturday. AEK is four points ahead of defending champion Olympiakos, which beat Panionios 1-0.

Also, Giannena won 3-0 at last-placed Platanias, and Panetolikos beat host Levadiakos 2-1.

Vranjes scored his opening goal in the 5th minute after the ball bounced off his thigh and rolled under the goalkeeper’s legs and into the net. But there was nothing lucky about his second goal, 14 minutes later, as he scored with a header off Bakasetas’ corner.

Another 14 minutes later, Bakasetas crossed from the left and Vranjes, totally forgotten by the defense, completed his hat trick with a header.

In the 44th, Rodrigo Galo crossed from the right and Bakasetas headed in from near the penalty spot.

In Piraeus, Olympiakos played before empty stands due to fan misbehavior. It managed to get its first win in nearly a month after two draws and a loss in the league, as well as a draw and a loss in the Greek Cup quarterfinals, where it was eliminated by AEK.

Vadis Odjidja-Ofoe scored in the 49th to keep Olympiakos within six points of PAOK. Olympiakos plays at PAOK next Sunday and a win would rekindle its hopes for a 20th league title in 22 seasons, though the team still faces a potential three-point deduction. Olympiakos has appealed the deduction, which is not reflected in the current standings.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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