AEK completed the group stage of the Champions League without a single point after it went down to a late Benfica goal in Lisbon on Wednesday.
Benfica won 1-0, taking advantage of a needless freekick that cost AEK dearly two minutes from time. Costas Galanopoulos, who lost the ball and then conceded that freekick, also received his second yellow card to leave AEK with 10 men.
Then Alex Grimaldo took the kick to swing the ball over the wall and into the net of goalkeeper Vassilis Barkas, while in the ensuiing protests by the Greek bench manager Marinos Ouzounidis also received his marching orders.
Before that unfortunate minute for the Greek champion, the visitors had held the Portuguese at bay, assisted also by the woodwork that denied the Lisbon team in the second half.
Ouzounidis fielded his team at Da Luz with a 4-3-3 formation, instead of his usual 4-4-1-1, but once again could not find a goal, as was the case in five of the six group games – AEK only scored in the 3-2 home loss to Benfica in September.
After a cautious first half AEK tried to be more creative and was unlucky not to score in a couple of occasions in the second half. However Benfica – that also had nothing to play for on the night – was superior and made the difference as soon as AEK was left a man down.
After its goal Benfica hit the goalframe for a second time, at the end of another disappointing night for AEK, that will now have to focus on domestic competitions only.