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PFC Litex Lovech coach Ferario Spasov will hope the spirit his side showed when fighting back from three goals down to narrowly lose the first leg of their UEFA Cup tie 3-2 against AEK Athens FC will be enough to carry the Bulgarian side into the fourth round.
AEK on their guard
The Greek outfit raced to a 3-0 lead in the first 24 minutes of the match in Athens but Zoran Yankovich, on 28 minutes, and Valeriu Rachita, with less than 20 minutes remaining, ensured AEK will have to be on their guard in the City stadium tonight. A confident Litex side could be the least of AEK’s problems, with an army detachment on standby to clear the pitch should it snow heavily as predicted.
Spasov was delighted following Litex’s first-leg recovery, saying: "It was logical for us to assume that it was all over at 3-0. But my team managed to keep the ball and gain control of the game and we scored two goals."
Exciting return in store
He promised an "exciting" return leg but his hopes of putting paid to AEK’s dreams of reaching the last 16 have been hampered by the loss of Zhivko Zhelev. The defender has been ruled out of the match and is not expected to return until the end of the year.
Despite letting a tie-winning lead slip at home, AEK's Portuguese manager Fernando Santos remains cautiously optimistic about the outcome. "It wasn't a result that gave us assurance, but we won and we embark with an advantage,” he said. We have one result in our favour, and we must work very hard to maintain it.
'Nothing is easy'
"Certainly, it will be a difficult game. In football nothing is easy. I don't know if the score took us by surprise in the first match. We were taken aback by ourselves. We were winning 3-0 and we ended up at 3-2," he added.
AEK will be boosted by a 1-0 win over Panahaiki GC last Sunday that saw them claim leadership of the Ethniki Katigoria at the expense of Olympiakos Piraeus FC after the latter's 2-2 draw with Panathinaikos FC the previous day.
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