AEK bounce back to winning ways
GREEK SUPERLEAGUE - MATCHDAY 20
|AEK||1 - 0||OFI|
AEK returned to winning form on Sunday with a straightforward 1-0 home success against OFI Crete at the Olympic Stadium.
Croatian striker Marko Livaja scored the only goal of the game for Manolo Jimenez’s men just before half-time, and that strike proved enough to see an under-par Kitrinomavri home against and OFI team who offered little threat.
The result helps AEK tighten their grip on third place, as the Athens club moved onto 40 points and they are trailing second-placed Olympiacos by five points ahead of their derby clash with leaders PAOK later on Sunday.
Following last week’s 1-1 draw with PAOK and the departure of former coach Marinos Ouzoundis, who resigned to pave the way for Jimenez’s return to the dugout for a third spell, the home side were in need of a three points haul to get back into the winning groove.
And despite a lackluster opening 45 minutes in which it seemed that AEK could not get out of second gear, a moment of brilliance from Christos Almpanis helped them break the deadlock after 37 minutes.
The 24-year-old midfielder, who came on after 13 minutes to replace the injured Niklas Hult, skipped past a couple of challenges from OFI defenders down the left, and crossed perfectly for the lurking Livaja to score easily from close range.
There were half chances for Viktor Klonaridis, Petros Mantalos and Alpanis for a second AEK goal just before half-time, but poor finishing meant the score remained at 1-0 to the home side as the players disappeared into the dressing rooms.
The slow tempo of the game continued into the second half with OFI struggling to create any threat to the home goal. There was one moment when the visitors managed to get close to AEK’s penalty area, but Pavlos Kyriakidis blazed over the bar with a long range effort.
Livaja, who had been relatively quiet since scoring the goal, then had another chance right at the end to make it 2-0 but his shot was saved well by OFI goalkeeper Giorgos Strezos.
AEK: 1 Barkas (GK), 2 Bakakis, 23 Hult, 4 Oikonomou, 15 Cosic, 12 Galos, 20 Mantalos, 8 Simoes, 31 Boye, 17 Klonaridis, 10 Livaja
OFI: 12 Strezos (GK), 34 Korovesis, 16 Mihojević, 24 Papazoglou, 22 Deligiannis, 6 Nastos, 11 Kyriakidis, 55 Neira, 30 Nabi, 21 Vaz, 10 Giakoumakis
HIGHLIGHTS: AEK - OFI