Unlucky AEK held by gritty Dynamo Kyiv in Athens
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - ROUND OF 32 (Leg 1)
|AEK||1 - 1||Dynamo Kyiv|
|Ajdarevic 80'||Tsygankov 19'|
Dynamo Kyiv gatecrashed AEK Athens’ bid to build up a head of steam in their UEFA Europa League Last 32 clash, holding Manolo Jimenez’s team to a 1-1 draw on Thursday in a first leg match the home side really should have won.
AEK needed a late headed equaliser from Swedish substitute Astrit Ajdarević to salvage a draw at a buzzing Olympic Stadium after they had fallen behind to Viktor Tsygankov’s 19th-minute opener against the run of play following a poor mistake by defender Michalis Bakakis.
AEK were impressive overall, creating plenty of chances and dominating possession for long spells as they extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to 23 matches.
That will be scant consolation for Jimenez, however, who knows that his players must now go to the Ukraine on February 22 and turn the tie around with the visitors possessing a vital away goal.
On a rainy night in the Greek capital, an enthusiastic and attack-minded AEK side made all the first half-running, passing the ball around confidently and finding gaps in the visitors’ defence with the movement and pace of Panagiotis Giakoumakis in particular causing an early threat.
Bit despite controlling much of the possession and getting themselves into dangerous areas, AEK could not find a clear sight of goal and they somehow found themselves a goal behind due to a lapse of concentration.
Some hesitant defending from left-back Bakakis allowed Kyiv winger Derlis González to muscle his way past and send a low cross into the penalty box which 20-year-old Tsygankov calmly side-footed home.
To their credit, AEK didn’t panic. The Kitrinomavri continued to try and play their way through the visitors and began to create chances, especially after Lazaros Christodoulopoulos was introduced in place of the ineffective Viktor Klonaridis five minutes into the second half.
Christodoulopoulos flashed a curling shot over the bar and was brought down an inch just outside the area for a dangerous free-kick as AEK searched desperately for an equaliser.
The hosts came close to drawing level after 72 minutes but Rodrigo Galo was denied from a free-kick by a superb diving save from Dynamo goalkeeper Denys Boyko.
Three minutes later and Boyko came to the rescue again, making two great saves in the space of a minute from Marko Livaja.
A key talking point of the match was the over zealous and often erratic referring of Spanish official Carlos Del Cerro. After booking fractious Dynamo midfielder Denys Garmash in the first half, the Kyiv No. 19 made at least three other bookable challenges but somehow managed to avoid getting sent-off, much the anger of Jimenez and the AEK bench.
Salvation finally came for AEK in the 80th minute when substitute Ajdarević rose to meet Christodoulopoulos’ cross after the forward’s initial free-kick effort rebounded back to his feet off the Kyiv defensive wall.
Christodoulopoulos had a decent chance to win it for AEK in the closing minutes but he headed over the bar at full stretch and the chance was gone.