KRC Genk were eliminated from UEFA Champions League Group C tonight despite scoring their first goal of the competition against AEK Athens in a 1-1 draw at the Nikos Goumas stadium.
AEK, meanwhile, can still qualify for the second group stage but need to beat AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in a fortnight's time after the Italian side's 1-0 victory over Real Madrid CF at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.
The Greek team, who collected their fifth consecutive draw in the competition, went behind to striker Wesley Sonck's strike on 22 minutes but were soon back on level terms thanks to Vassilios Lakis. It was a match in which both teams played with similar tactics, constantly looking for the long ball over the top.
Almost caught out
Greece's Alpha Ethniki leaders were caught napping as early as the third minute when Mirsad Bešlija headed a free-kick just wide of the post. Striker Takayuki Suzuki, who replaced the flu-stricken Burkina Faso forward Moumouni Dagano in the starting lineup, then tried a shot from the edge of the box which goalkeeper Dionisios Chiotis saved comfortably.
It was the Japanese international Suzuki who set up Genk's opener when he latched on to a lofted ball and picked out the unmarked Sonck, who made no mistake from inside the area.
Striker Themistoklis Nikolaidis, who was a danger for Genk throughout, ghosted into the area minutes later but dragged his shot wide when under pressure from Chiotis, demanding a penalty which was not given.
AEK, though, equalised on the half-hour and it was no more than they deserved, Lakis prevailing with only goalkeeper Jan Moons to beat. The midfield player skilfully lobbed Moons and successfully picked his spot between two defenders.
The second half started as competitively as the first with both sides fashioning opportunities to break the deadlock. Koen Daerden and Bernd Thijs both unleashed fierce shots from just outside the box, forcing Chotis into action once again.
AEK continued to look to Nikolaidis, who did well to get clear down the right on 61 minutes before hooking his shot wide of the far post and Grigorios Georgatos wriggled into a good position soon after but his effort went wide as he was squeezed on both sides by defenders.
From there on the match petered out, with neither team enjoying a clear-cut chance to score, Daerden working himself into a good position for Genk and Georgatos doing the same for AEK but both players lacked the composure to make the final ball tell. Genk play Madrid at home in their last match on 12 November.
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