AEK averted its first loss in the Europa League, but has not yet got the ticket to the knockout stages as its 2-2 draw at home with Rijeka on Thursday means it will have to avoid defeat at Austria Vienna on December 7 to qualify.
The match at the Olympic Stadium had two sides, the first up to the 30th minute and the second in the last hour.
In the first half-hour the 2-0 score for Rijeka was actually quite flattering for AEK, as the Croats also hit the woodwork twice. AEK’s players were actually jeered by their own fans.
The goals started coming after just eight minutes, as Maxwell Acosty headed toward Alexander Gorgon after a corner kick and Gorgon headed the ball past keeper Yiannis Anestis.
Dario Zuparic and Gorgon hit the goal frame within four minutes, before Gorgon added his second goal capitalizing on a backward header by Ognjen Vranjes, to beat Anestis with his shot.
After the half-hour mark Marko Livaja came on to replace Rodrigo Galo, bringing some balance to the AEK team that started to threaten the visitors.
The Athens club cut the deficit in the first half’s time added-on, when Michalis Bakakis tried a cross from the left and Sergio Araujo slotted the ball in from close range.
It then had to wait for just 10 minutes to equalize on the 55th: Tasos Bakasetas took a freekick that Rijeka keeper Andrej Prskalo only half-cleared it and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos made it 2-2 with a header.
AEK kept up the pressure on the Croat champion in search for the winning goal, and got mighty close one minute from time when Araujo hit the crossbar.