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AEK Athens FC overturned a 1-0 first-leg deficit to qualify for the UEFA Champions League at Grasshopper-Club's expense - although a missed penalty from Nikos Liberopoulos could have cost the Greek side dear.
Two headed goals in five minutes midway through the first half swung the third qualifying round tie in AEK's favour, Costas Katsouranis and Liberopoulos doing the business for the home side. An own goal shortly before the break when Grasshoppers defender Pascal Castillo nodded the ball past his own goalkeeper seemed to put the Greek club in control but the visitors had other ideas.
A well-struck 68th-minute free-kick from Richard Nuñez gave the Swiss team hope which could have been short-lived had Liberopoulos converted a penalty moments later. But Grasshoppers were unable to find the goal which would have given them an away-goals victory - and Liberopoulos was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
AEK coach Dusan Bajevic was under no illusions as to how close his side came to a Champions League exit. "Since I didn't die tonight, I never will," he joked, before adding: "The match was extremely positive for us during the first half, but somehow it got out of hand after the interval. I was really scared - the last 15 minutes were the worst of my life. My players looked too stressed after Grasshoppers' goal and there was nothing I could do from the bench."
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