AEK Athens FC reignited their UEFA Europa League campaign with a determined 1-0 victory over Group I rivals SL Benfica at the OACA Spiros Louis.
Sweden defender Daniel Majstorovic's towering header two minutes before half-time proved enough to seal the three points for Dušan Bajević's side, despite AEK losing defender Nikos Georgeas late on after he collected two yellow cards.
Defeated 4-0 by Everton FC on Matchday 1, AEK were looking to reignite their European season but struggled in a subdued opening. It was the visitors who threatened first with Ramires shooting straight at Sebastián Saja. Georgeas registered the hosts' first effort on goal after 16 minutes, and slowly AEK began to find their way through the Benfica rearguard.
AEK striker Ismael Blanco missed three chances to open the scoring, twice heading wide and volleying over from the industrious Georgeas' cross. Benfica forward Óscar Cardozo almost punished Blanco's profligacy after 41 minutes when he flashed a header wide, but it proved a prelude to the hosts taking the lead through Majstorovic, who headed powerfully into the top right corner of Júlio César's goal from former Benfica man Gustavo Manduca's corner.
AEK had Saja to thank twice within two minutes of the restart after he denied Angel Di María and Javier Saviola as Benfica began the second half strongly, before Blanco fired over the bar from another Georgeas cross. Saja showed his worth again saving from Cardozo's free-kick and Fábio Coentrão's vicious shot on 74 minutes as the visitors chased an equaliser which never came, with AEK holding firm despite Georgeas' dismissal on 86 minutes.
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