AEK hold firm against Milan to claim a point in Athens
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE (GROUP D) - MATCHDAY 4
|AEK||0 - 0||AC Milan|
AEK Athens secured a second successive 0-0 draw with Europa League favourites AC Milan at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday to keep hold of second spot in Group D.
Manolo Jimenez's team, playing without recent ACL injury victim and captain Petros Mantalos, repeated their San Siro performance in front of a packed crowd, limiting the visitors to only a few scoring chances while also threatening sporadically to pinch three points.
Milan’s Riccardo Montolivo went closest to scoring, hitting the post with a low shot in the second half, but overall this Matchday 4 encounter was a match in which defences were dominant.
AEK’s stand-in skipper Jacob Johansson almost scored a spectacular late winner but his long range, swerving shot from 25 yards just missed Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma’s post.
Austria Vienna’s victory over Rijeka means that both Milan - as group leaders - and AEK, remain in the Group D qualification spots moving on to Matchday 5.
After picking up two points from two matches against Serie A giants and one of the competition favourites, AEK have boosted their chances of securing European football after the winter break.
Jimenez's men showed dedication and extreme focus, as well as tactical discipline. A repeat of this display with a bit more cutting edge in attack should see them defeat Rijeka at home in late November.
While the draw is not a bad result for Milan, who retain the Group D leadership with a two-point margin, Vincenzo Montella was probably expecting a different kind of performance from the below-par Rossoneri.