By Mark Bennett at the Philips stadium
PSV Eindhoven took a stride towards qualification to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League with a comfortable home win which ended AEK Athens FC's hopes of progression. While eleven goals rained in during the other Group C game in Monaco, two scored by Wilfred Bouma and Arjen Robben were enough for the Dutch champions to chalk up their second win of the campaign.
Despite both sides needing all three points to stay in serious contention, PSV coach Guus Hiddink and his opposite number, Dusan Bajevic, both looked to a 4-4-1-1 lineup, with John de Jong sitting in behind Mateja Kezman for the Dutch side and Yannis Okkas playing the same position off Nikolaos Lyberopoulos for AEK.
The home side got off to a flying start. In the first minute, Robben broke free on the left and raced into the penalty area, but Kezman failed to head in his cross. PSV continued to throw men forward in the opening minutes and at times had all ten outfield players camped in AEK's half.
Despite the lively start, the supporters had to wait until the 18th minute before the next chance came along. De Jong sent a free-kick on to the head of Theo Lucius, but his effort went over the bar. After 27 minutes the Greek side finally managed to create their first opportunity, Nikos Lyberopoulos heading wide. A minute later Kezman should have scored, but his first effort was stopped by Hristostomos Mihailidis and the striker's second shot was cleared off the line by Evaggelos Moras.
With 32 minutes on the clock AEK coach Bajevic was forced to make his first substitution. Ivan Rusev limped off the pitch and was replaced by Vassilios Tsiartas. Five minutes later the home fans thought that their side had taken the lead when Kezman's strike found the back of the net, but referee Konrad Plautz ruled the striker offside and the game remained goalless until half-time.
PSV were finally rewarded for their positive approach and attacking spirit six minutes into the second half. Robben's corner fell straight into the path of Bouma, who had moved up from the back, and the defender's header gave the home side the lead. PSV were now in full flow and only a splendid save from Mihailidis denied Robben four minutes later.
The Eredivisie side cleverly kept possession for long periods after taking the lead, constantly pressing for the opening that would put the match out of AEK's reach.
The chance materialised on 63 minutes when Robben found Kezman and the striker left the defence standing before unselfishly playing the ball back to Robben, who was left with a straightforward tap-in from close range. Despite a late surge, AEK were a beaten team - and their Champions League hopes perished for another year.