By Paris Ayiomamitis in Athens
PSV Eindhoven got their UEFA Champions League campaign on track after snatching a deserved 1-0 victory against ten-man AEK Athens thanks to a first-half goal from Theo Lucius.
The result lifted the Dutch team into third place in Group C above AEK, as PSV gained their first points of the tournament against a team that had Kofi Amponsah dismissed 25 minutes from time.
Noisy home crowd
Roared on by a typically noisy home crowd, AEK pushed the game into the Dutch team's half but were unable to break down their well-organised defensive line. Nevertheless, the Greek team came close after eight minutes but forward Nikos Lyberopoulos was unable to capitalise when the ball dropped in front of him in the penalty area.
AEK on top
With surprise starter Ivan Rusev on the left side of midfield in place of the influential Grigoris Georgatos who ruled himself out for personal reasons, and Vassilios Tsiartas marshalling the centre of the midfield, AEK slowly began to increase the pressure, forcing the visitors on the defensive. The ever-elusive Yiannis Okkas twisted and turned but his efforts were fruitless.
Home side denied
However, unable to thread through PSV's well-knit defence, AEK had to rely on long-range efforts. Theodoros Zagorakis shot over Ronald Waterreus's crossbar and then the same player placed an effort wide. Having weathered AEK's forays, though, PSV began to launch dangerous counterattacks, and ten minutes before the break they were ahead.
Lucius pounced on a Mihalis Kasapis clearance and shot past a stranded Chrisostomos Mihailidis. Konstantinos Katsouranis then shot well wide from outside the area just before the break, but PSV ended the half in confident mood.
Visitors in control
PSV controlled the flow of play after the interval and nearly put the match beyond the hosts on 55 minutes, but, luckily for AEK, Mateja Kezman was unable to beat Mihailidis after meeting a Dennis Rommedahl cross with a powerful low shot.
AEK coach Dusan Bajevic reshuffled the pack on the hour sending on long-time absentee Vassilios Lakis for Rusev and Serbo-Montenegrin striker Ilija Ivic for Lyberopoulos. The changes almost paid off a minute later when Ivic swung a cross in from the right but Kevin Hofland was there to head the ball away before it reached Zagorakis and Bajevic's woes were compounded on 65 minutes when Ghanaian international Amponsah was dismissed after bringing down Kezman as he advanced on goal.
Buoyed by their one-man advantage, PSV seized the initiative and orchestrated a series of promising attacks, and Rommedahl and Kezman both went close. AEK's Ivic had a late chance but Johann Vogel made a vital tackle and PSV's points were safe as they prepare to welcome the Greek team to Eindhoven on 5 November.