Spaniards get their way

Ten-man Real Sociedad rebounded to grab a valuable point on Tuesday with a 2-2 draw away against Olympiakos in a Champions League Group D game. The result ended the Greek club’s hopes of making the last 16. Also on Tuesday, in the Spanish city of Coruna, Hector Berenguel, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque scored as Deportivo de La Coruna cruised past a feeble AEK 3-0 in a Group C match. AEK’s loss was its fourth in succession and leaves it anchored in last place with the one point it gained in its opening match against Deportivo in September, and no interest left in European competition this season. With four points from five games, Olympiakos can now only hope to finish third in Group D for a place in the UEFA Cup. Real Sociedad, on eight points, is now close to advancing. Italian powerhouse Juventus, the group leader, has already qualified with 10 points. Olympiakos found itself a goal down just after the half hour when Igor Gabilondo raced down the left and beat keeper Fanis Kateryiannakis to the ball to put the Basque club ahead. Ieroklis Stoltidis leveled with a powerful drive in the 59th. Darko Kovacevic saw a second yellow card in the 67th, leaving the visitors a man short. Nery Castillo gave the Greeks the lead in the 71st off a pass from Giovanni. The 19-year-old Uruguayan breezed past Dutch goalkeeper Sander Westerveld and scored with a pinpoint shot. But three minutes later, Gabriel Schurrer leveled with a superb volley off a center from Agustin Aranzabal. Back to Group C, Deportivo, second with 10 points from five games, is level on points with leader Monaco, which drew 1-1 with PSV Eindhoven. PSV is third with seven points. Deportivo, which lacked injured striker Diego Tristan and Brazilian anchorman Mauro Silva, never hit top form although the victory was a major improvement on its record 8-3 loss against Monaco in its last Champions League game. The Spanish team survived an early scare when Greek international midfielder Vassilios Tsiartas rattled the crossbar in the 13th minute with a fierce left-footed shot from outside the penalty area. Hector calmed nerves nine minutes later with a rare goal which he rifled home after central defender Michalis Kapsis slipped as he tried to deal with a loose ball. AEK battled gamely to get on level terms and claimed a penalty when striker Yiannis Okkas fell in the 33rd minute after a challenge by Cesar Martin. Okkas received a yellow card for what was judged to be a dive, although television replays suggested that the Spanish international defender had made contact. AEK, which lost its captain Michalis Kasapis through injury in the 43rd minute, caved after halftime. Valeron doubled the lead in the 51st minute with a low shot from the edge of the area which eluded diving goalkeeper Chrysostomos Michailidis. Deportivo killed off the match 20 minutes later when Uruguayan striker Walter Pandiani broke AEK’s offside trap to receive Sergio Gonzalez’s pass and then passed for substitute Luque to tap the ball into an empty net. (AP)