- Europe Will Have to Wait Another Year... -
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE - 3RD QUALIFYING ROUND, LEG 2
|AEK||0 - 1||Saint Etienne|
|(0 - 1)
AEK's return to the group stages of a European competition will have to wait another year. The Enosis fell 0-1 in Greece to Saint Etienne in the 2nd leg of the UEFA Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round and bowed out of this year's competitions. A goal in the 23rd minute from Beric gave Saint Etienne the victory.
After a good result in France, AEK hoped to come away with a victory in the second leg in Athens to secure their place in the playoff qualifying round. Saint Etienne controlled the possession early on, but the first chances fell to AEK in the opening 15 minutes. One defensive lapse from AEK enabled Saint Etienne to find the opening goal from Beric's header in the 23rd minute. The away goal changed the complexion of the tie as AEK now needed 2 goals (only a victory would do) to advance. After conceding, the Kitrinomavri attacked in Saint Etienne's half with Barbosa missing a tremendous opportunity to pull level with a close-ranged header. The visitors were denied by the woodwork at the end of the half and they took their lead into the break.
With AEK needing two goals, the hosts went on the attack in the second half while Saint Etienne sat back on defense. Despite controlling possession, the Dikefalos' first great chance came in the 81st minute with Platellas' long-ranged shot agonizingly going past the bar. The fans continued to push their team for a goal, but AEK fell 0-1 at the final whistle. The players were given a standing ovation by their supporters for their efforts in tonight's match.
AEK will have to wait another season to play in the group stages of a European competition. The Greek club has been absent from European play since the 2011 season and are slowly re-building their European name after returning to the top flight of Greek Football. AEK will now focus their preparations on the Greek SuperLeague season which begins on August 20th.