AEK march on to Europa League Round of 32
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE (GROUP D) - MATCHDAY 6
|Austria Wien||0 - 0||AEK|
AEK secured the draw they needed against Austria Vienna on Thursday, holding the home side to a 0-0 stalemate in their final Group D clash to book their place in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League.
Manolo Jimenez’s team looked the most likely side to score in what was a closely-contested encounter at the Ernst Happel Stadion, but defences were largely on top and neither side could find a way through.
The draw was AEK’s fifth in six group matches, and proved enough to see the Kitrinomavri finish second behind group winners AC Milan with eight points.
Croatian champions Rijeka finished third just one point behind, while Austria ended the campaign at the bottom of the section with five points.
AEK can now look forward to the Round of 32 draw which takes place in Nyon, Switzerland on December 11.
It was a disappointing display from Thorsten Fink’s Austria, who struggled to threaten a well-organised AEK team with Lazaros Christodoulopoulos and Sergio Araujo causing problems all night long.
They have now failed to win in their last eight UEFA home games.
Araujo was first to try his luck after 15 minutes, but the little Argentine forward’s shot after bursting through onto Marko Livaja's lobbed pass went over the crossbar.
Christodoulopoulos then had one of AEK’s best chances to score after 42 minutes, but he missed the target with an optimistic curling effort.
Austria upped their tempo after the half-time break, and almost went ahead in bizarre fashion in the 68th minute. AEK goalkeeper Panagiotis Tsintotas punched a Raphael Holzhauser cross clear but Dominik Prokop returned it with interest; his instinctive first-time effort dropped just wide though.
That was about all Austria could muster as AEK comfortably held on to get the result their performance deserved.