SPORTS

AEK ousted without disgrace

Marco Delvecchio’s first-half goal helped AS Roma to a 1-1 draw with AEK on Tuesday night, assuring the Italian club a spot in the last 16 of the Champions League and eliminating AEK. Needing only a draw to advance, Roma launched an all-out attack in the first half, outshooting the Greek side 11-1. After several near-misses and a few other opportunities canceled out by offsides, Delvecchio finally scored for Roma in the 40th minute. AEK, which had to win to advance, drew even with Costa Rican midfielder Walter Centeno’s 90th-minute goal. Centeno just managed to get his foot on Vassilis Tsartas’s free kick and the ball bounced in off Roma keeper Francesco Antonioli’s hands. Roma, with a 2-3-1 record, finished the six-match first round even with Real Madrid on nine points atop Group C, but was second to the defending champion on goals scored in the two teams’ matches. The loss eliminated AEK, although the Greek club’s undefeated record – six draws in six games – earned it third place in the group and a berth in the UEFA Cup’s third round. «It was tough tonight, but we’re happy to advance, the qualification was merited,» Delvecchio said. AEK coach Dusan Bajevic said had his team scored 15 minutes earlier, the outcome could have been very different for a side which was unbeaten in the group, having drawn all six first-round matches. «We looked sharper in the second half but couldn’t break through. When we scored, it gave everyone a lift, but we didn’t have enough time to make it difficult for Roma,» Bajevic said. «The players gave everything they had, so I can’t complain.» (AP/AFP)