SOCCER

Olympiakos keeps Greek flag flying in Europe

olympiakos-keeps-greek-flag-flying-in-europe

Olympiakos is through to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League after beating Neftchi Baku for the second time in a week. AEK and Aris were not so fortunate in the Europa Conference League.

The Reds are now two steps away from the lucrative group stages of the competition, with Bulgaria’s Ludogorets being the next obstacle to overcome.

The Greek champion topped its 1-0 home win on July 21 with the same score in the second leg in Azerbaijan on Wednesday, courtesy of a Giorgos Masouras first-half strike from close range.

Greece has no representatives in the Europa League, but had two teams in action at the newborn Europa Conference League.

AEK bowed out of the new competition on Thursday as lost to Velez Mostar in the penalty shootout.

Petros Mantalos scored in the eighth minute of time added on for a 1-0 regulation result in the return leg in Athens, after AEK’s 2-1 defeat in Bosnia a week earlier. However the abolition of the away goals rule meant the game would have to go to extra time.

With no goals scored then, the tie went to the shootout where Velez won 3-2 to go through.

Aris had to offset a 2-0 loss at Astana from last week and it did just that in Thessaloniki on Thursday with goals from Dimitris Manos and Lucas Sasha to force extra time too, while being a man down from the 85th minute.

However in the last minute of extra time Astana scored with Eneo Bitri for a 2-1 final score and 3-2 in its favor on aggregate.

In the third qualifying round Greek Cup holder PAOK will face Bohemians of Dublin.