LIVAJA AT THE DOUBLE AS AEK HELD BY AUSTRIA
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE (GROUP D) - MATCHDAY 2
|AEK||2 - 2||Austria Wien|
Marko Livaja scored twice but AEK Athens were denied a second successive Europa League group stage win on Thursday by Austria Vienna, who escaped from the Olympic Stadium with a 2-2 draw following an entertaining and evenly-matched Group D clash.
Manolo Jimemez’s team AEK took a 28th-minute lead through striker Livaja, but Christoph Monschein levelled matters just before half-time before Ismael Tajouri-Shradi curled in a brilliant effort just after half-time.
AEK contrived to miss a hatful of chances as they lay siege to the visitors’ goal for long spells in the second half, with Livaja particularly wasteful, but Austria also had their young third goalkeeper Patrick Pentz to thank for a string of fine saves.
Livaja though atoned for his earlier indiscretions by tapping home Sergio Araujo’s cross in the last minute to earn AEK a well-deserved draw.
Jimenez’s team now have four points and stay second behind group leaders AC Milan, who have six points. The Kitrinomavri visit the San Siro next on October 19.
AEK, who defeated Rijeka 2-1 two weeks ago in Croatia and went into this match on a high after beating Olympiacos 3-2 in Sunday’s Athens derby, were slow starters in front of their own fans and were almost caught out after 17 minutes.
Their Austrian opponents began brightly and Monschein was only denied a goal by the crossbar after beating Giannis Anestis with his shot. AEK finally began to find their passing game, however, and went ahead deservedly in the 28 minutes.
Sergio Araujo raced clear on goal and although Vienna keeper Patrick Pentz blocked his initial effort, he could do nothing as the rebound ballooned up nicely for Livaja to bundle in his first goal since March.
Both teams looked equally impressive on the ball and capable of more goals, and another came two minutes before half-time. This time it was for the visitors, with Monschein the man on target. The Austria No14 slid in to poke Felipe Pires's low cross past Anestis for the equalizer.
The visitors started the second half with the same quick passing and direct running as they did the first, and it paid off with a goal just four minutes in, Tajouri-Shradi curling home a delicious effort after AEK’s defenders backed off him.
AEK went straight down the other end a minute later but Livaja’s snapshot was saved brilliantly by Pentz after a great run from Araujo, before Petros Mantalos was also denied by Pentz’s acrobatics.
Ognjen Vranješ was net to go close for AEK, sending a header agonizingly wide from a Mantalos cross.
Pentz then came to the rescue again for Vienna in the 67th minute with a sprawling block to deny Livaja, who minutes earlier had worked himself into space before firing a tame effort wide.
Just when it seemed AEK would suffer an unfortunate loss, Livaja struck with his second goal of the game to claim a point.