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AEK on the rise after defeating Hajduk

HNK Hajduk Split 1-3 AEK Athens FC
Second-half goals from Nacho Scocco, Kostas Manolas and Ismael Blanco put the Greek side within a point of the knockout stages.

Hajduk goalkeeper Božidar Radošević rues his luck after Nacho Scocco's opener for AEK
Hajduk goalkeeper Božidar Radošević rues his luck after Nacho Scocco's opener for AEK ©Getty Images

AEK Athens FC rose to second in Group G after a 3-1 win at HNK Hajduk Split which eliminated the Croatian club with one match to play.

AEK triumphed thanks to second-half goals from Nacho Scocco, a penalty, Kostas Manolas and substitute Ismael Blanco, Jurica Buljat's strike in the last minute coming too late for Hajduk. The win lifts the Greek club on to seven points and needing just a draw at home to unbeaten section winners FC Zenit St Petersburg on 16 December to enter the following day's draw for the last 32.

Despite the sticky pitch, both teams were full of attacking intent early on. In the third minute, Ante Vukušić did superbly to intercept a pass and free Anas Sharbini, whose left-footed shot across goalkeeper Sebastián Saja ricocheted back into the area off the base of the post. Marin Tomasov fired the loose ball over.

Sharbini and Tomasov were each then denied opportunities by last-ditch challenges, while AEK captain Nikos Liberopoulos failed to convert two half-chances. Scocco perhaps should have scored in first-half added time after Nathan Burns had danced around Mario Maloča and teed him up six metres from goal, but made amends by drawing a foul from Maloča in the 50th minute and converting his spot kick with ease.

Manolas doubled the advantage when rising to head a Liberopoulos corner high into the Hajduk net 11 minutes later. The skipper made way for Blanco in the 80th minute, and four minutes later the Argentinian – fresh from a weekend winner against city rivals Olympiacos FC − caught Božidar Radošević unawares and swept the ball in first time from the edge of the area. Buljat's late reply would have done little to dampen the visitors' enthusiasm.