Football - Soccer-Panathinaikos lose further ground after Veria humbling

By Graham Wood

ATHENS, Dec 16 (Reuters) - Panathinaikos suffered an embarrassing 3-0 defeat at lowly Veria on Sunday as the Greens continued to lose ground on runaway league leaders and arch rivals Olympiakos Piraeus in the Greek Super League.

Juan Ramon Rocha's side produced a below-par display against their modest opponents, who were bottom of the table before the match kicked off, going down to two first-half goals from Ilias Ioannou and Kenan Bargan's strike 10 minutes after halftime.

The defeat is Rocha's second since replacing Jesualdo Ferreira on Nov. 15 and leaves the club 19 points behind Olympiakos in ninth place.

"It was a very bad night for us, we did not get into any kind of rhythm at all," a dejected Rocha told reporters.

"I hope it works as a lesson for us and we don't have to start from scratch as we had reached a fairly good level after the derby with Olympiakos. But let's not forget that Veria are a good team and their current league position does not do them justice."

Leonardo Jardim's Olympiakos extended their lead over second-placed PAOK Salonika to 11 points on Saturday courtesy of a late Rafik Djebbour strike at Panionios - a 1-0 win which sees meant they ended the year unbeaten so far this season after 15 matches.

The hosts had taken a 25th-minute lead through Christos Aravidis before Panagiotis Spyropoulos accidently put the ball into his own net five minutes later.

Djebbour's late winner eight minutes from time earned the Red and Whites their 12th win of the campaign.

AEK Athens were denied a much-needed home victory over Atromitos on Sunday when Matias Iglesias' late equaliser earned the visitors a 1-1 draw at the Olympic Stadium following Andreas Satamatis' 66th-minute opener.

The result leaves AEK at the foot of the table along with fellow strugglers Kerkyra on 12 points.

"I am happy about scoring the goal but we remain in last place and have to change that," Stamatis told reporters.

"We are working hard in training and will eventually get on the right road. There is still the whole second half of the season to go and we can turn the situation around."

The Super League now goes into a short mid-season break after PAOK play at Giannena on Monday with matches resuming with Round 16 on Jan 5. (Editing by Mark Meadows; mark.meadows@thomsonreuters.com; +44 20 7542 7933; Reuters Messaging:; mark.meadows.reuters.com@reuters.net)