Soccer-Panathinaikos v Salonika game delayed by crowd trouble

ATHENS, May 4 (Reuters) - Panathinaikos's Greek Super League playoff clash against PAOK Salonika was delayed by 30 minutes on Sunday due to ugly clashes between rival supporters.

With the game due to kick-off at 830 PM local time, when the 600-strong group of visiting PAOK fans entered the Apostolos Nikolaidis stadium both sets of supporters began firing flares and fireworks.

Several groups of supporters spilled on to the pitch as they tried to get at each other before riot police moved in to disperse the crowds and restore order.

The presidents of both clubs, Panathinaikos's Giannis Alafouzos and PAOK's Ivan Savvidis, headed over to their respective fans to plead for calm and the match started at 900 pm local time.

It was the second time in under a month that the kick-off of a big match in Greece has been delayed following unsavoury scenes during PAOK's Greek Cup semi-final win over Olympiakos Piraeus on April 16.

The start was delayed by over an hour due to thousands of flares being set off and a bucket of fish being dumped on to the visitors' dugout.

Panathinaikos drew 1-1 with Salonika and there were no further crowd disruptions. (Reporting by Graham Wood, editing by Ed Osmond)