AEK succumbed to 10-man Benfica in Athens, going down 3-2 at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, to see any chances it had to advance to the next round of the Champions League slip away after its second defeat in as many group games.
The thrilling encounter, the first home match for AEK in the group stage after 12 years, was definitely one to remember being full of action, goals and emotion.
Benfica capitalized on the unsteady defense of the Greeks, with two central defenders who were paired up for the first time this season, and Tasos Bakasetas suffering as a left back.
Therefore it only took the Portuguese six minutes to open the score, when a Gedson Fernandes shot was not blocked by Vassilis Barkas and Haris Seferovic sent it in to silence the tens of thousands of AEK fans at the stands.
Benfica continued to pound the Greek goal and scored again on the 15th. Pizzi delivered a cross, Bakasetas lost Alex Grimaldo and the Benfica left-back made it 2-0 with a header.
The visitors had two more chances to add to their lead, but after the 25th minute AEK managed to balance the game and started asking questions at Odysseas Vlachodimos, Benfica’s Greek-German goalkeeper.
This pressure started paying off in the time added-on before half-time, as Ruben Dias received his second yellow card. This would prove significant for the rest of the match.
In the second half AEK was a different team, making the most of its numerical advantage. Eight minutes on Viktor Klonaridis converted a Niklas Hult cross to score his first goal of the night.
Then on the 63rd Klonaridis equalized after a Marios Oikonomou header that was not cleared properly, and another 10 minutes later he missed a glorious chance to complete a hat-trick.
However it was Benfica that made a third goal on the 74th, as Alfa Semedo stole the ball in midfield and ran unchallenged to shoot from outside the box and execute Barkas for 2-3.
The shock of the third goal proved too much for the hosts to handle, and AEK was left with zero points from two games, and facing two consecutive matches against German giant Bayern Munich.