SPORTS

AEK and PAOK through in Europa League, PAO out

AEK and PAOK have made it into the group stage of the Europa League but Panathinaikos have crashed out of the competition despite beating Maccabi Tel Aviv at home in an eventful game.

PAOK had the most straightforward night, drawing 1-1 with Karpaty in Ukraine. The Thessaloniki side had won the home leg 2-0 and went through 3-1 on aggregate.

Lucas had given the Ukrainians the lead with a penalty on the stroke of half-time but Sotiris Balafas replied on 55 minutes for PAOK to send Laszlo Boloni?s men into the next round.

AEK needed extra time in Georgia against Dinamo Tbilisi to secure qualification. Dinamo captain Alexandre Koshkadze scored in the first minute with the first attack of the game to cancel out the Yellows? lead from the home tie in Athens.

It required a penalty from second-half substitute Leonardo in the 112th minute to secure a place in the group stage for AEK. The bad-tempered game ended with two home players and AEK?s Grigoris Makos being sent off in the closing stages.

Panthinaikos had a mountain to climb at home after losing 3-0 in Israel and despite a more competent display in the first-half, the score remained 0-0.

The Greens faced mission impossible when the visitors took the lead in the 62nd minute through Haris Medunjanin. The lead was short-lived, though, as PAO hit back with a Jean-Alain Boumsong header on 70 minutes.

Moments later Moussa Konate was sent off for Maccabi and Panathinaikos took full advantage with Spanish striker Toche grabbing the winner in the 80th minute.

The victory did little to mask what has been a disappointing start to the season for Jesualdo Ferreira and his men. Matters were made worse by clashes between Panathinaikos and Maccabi fans in the stands.

Riot police used tear gas to keep rival supporters apart in the first-half, forcing the game to be delayed for a few minutes. European soccer?s governing body UEFA is likely to investigate the incident, which could spell more problems for the Greens.