AEK still believe, Dynamo pleased with goal
AEK Athens rescued a 1:1 draw in the UEFA Europa League Last 32 first leg against Dynamo Kyiv in the Greek capital, scoring with only ten minutes remaining to stay in the tie ahead of the return in Kyiv.
The Athenian outfit boasted the majority of possession at the Olympic Stadium, but despite asking questions of an organised Dynamo Kyiv side, AEK failed to break down the sturdy Ukrainian defence until the game’s dying moments. Following the final whistle, AEK head coach Manolo Jimenez shared his opinions of the gripping battle in Athens, voicing his support of defender Michalis Bakakis who committed an error for Dynamo’s goal.
“Michalis Bakakis is having an amazing season, but when he makes a mistake, we have to support him too,” stated Jimenez. “I don’t think it was fair that Ognjen Vranjes and Marko Livaja were shown a yellow card which gives them a suspension, and I don’t know how Dynamo’s number 19 and 34 stayed on the pitch.
In the return match, I think the climate will play an important role. When we add just how good Dynamo are, our task becomes very difficult. Nevertheless, we have belief that we can qualify for the next round.”
Dynamo Kyiv boss Alyaksandr Khatskevich was relieved with his team’s away goal, but felt disappointed not to hold on to the victory. “We scored an away goal, however we couldn’t win the match. We needed to play better on the counterattack, in the second half we set back in defence. The opponents had more of the ball. Maybe goalkeeper Denys Boyko made a mistake for the goal, we will watch back what happened.”
Astrit Ajdarevic, AEK’s substitute who headed in Lazaros Christodoulopoulos’ cross on the 80th minute mark, was pleased with the team’s overall performance. “Dynamo Kyiv got a goal from nothing, I think that we started the first half well with the right intensity,” said the Albanian midfielder. “In the second half, we showed that we are a really good team. We have to go to Kyiv and try to win, or at least score two goals. We have nothing to lose.”
Dynamo Kyiv’s top goalscorer in the Europa League Junior Moraes pointed out AEK’s pressure, while mentioning the difficulties connected with having a long winter break. “It was a difficult game, AEK pushed a lot. I didn’t want to say this before the game, but Dynamo have not had an official match for a very long time, it made it tough for us. We felt tired in the second half, AEK had more space.”