SPORTS

AEK advances to Europa League group stage, Panathinaikos and PAOK crash out

TAGS: Soccer

AEK advanced to the group stage of the Europa League following an emphatic 3-0 win over Club Brugge in Athens on Thursday.

AEK took the lead in the 27 minute through a penalty kick taken by Lazaros Christodoulopoulos. Two more goals from Portuguese midfielder Andre Simoes in the 39th and 90th minutes sealed the triumph for the Greek side who had drawn the first leg 0-0 away.

The other two Greek contenders, Panathinaikos and PAOK, crashed out of the competition on Thursday.

Athletic Bilbao’s Iker Muniain scored in the first half to supply a 1-0 win and ensure the Spanish side got past Panathinaikos 4-2 on aggregate.

PAOK also went out as Saman Ghoddos’s brace for Ostersunds put the Swedish side through on away goals – a shock result for the Thessaloniki club.

The group draw is on Friday.

Uphill struggle

Meanwhile, Greek champions Olympiakos were matched against two of the continent’s big guns, Juventus and Barcelona, in Thursday’s draw for the group stage of this season’s UEFA Champions League.

Sporting Lisbon, who finished bottom of its group last season, complete Group D.

The group stage of Europe’s top soccer competition begins September 12 and 13 and ends with the final two matchdays on December 5 and 6. The final will be played May 26 in Kiev – less than three weeks before the 2018 World Cup kicks off in Russia.

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