AEK enjoy exciting win over Hajduk
Nikos Liberopoulos spared the blushes of team-mate Rafik Djebbour as AEK clinched three points in their opening UEFA Europa League Group G encounter with Hajduk Split.
Liberopoulos pounced in the 65th minute after Djebbour's earlier penalty miss for the home side, with Ignacio Scocco rounding off the win in the closing stages. Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was a short-lived hero for Hajduk Split when he managed to keep out Djebbour's 48th minute spot-kick after Jurica Buljat was adjudged to have fouled Nathan Burns.
Djebbour had given the home side the lead in the 12th minute when he drilled the ball home from 12 yards. Split should have levelled in the 15th minute but AEK goalkeeper Giannis Arampatzis parried his 20-yard shot. But the visitors got on level terms in the 29th minute when Papa Bouba Diop fouled Marin Tomasov inside the penalty area.
Bouba Diop received a yellow card for the misdemeanour and Split punished him further when Senijad Ibricic sent a rising penalty into the roof of the net. Djebbour's penalty blunder looked to have cost the home side until Liberopoulos pounced to restore their advantage.
AEK should have increased their lead moments after taking the lead but Subasic pulled off another fine save to deny Scocco, diving to punch away Scocco's 18-yard effort as the home side sought a third goal. They should have put the game beyond the visitors but Subasic made two superb saves in as many minutes to deny the Greeks.
In the 75th minute he dived to turn away a shot from Djebbour with his feet and then kept out another effort from Pereira Leonardo. But AEK had Arampatzis to thank in the 84th minute when he kept out an 18-yard shot from Dinko Trebotic, who had replaced Ervin Bulku only three minutes earlier.
AEK's defence were under siege in the closing stages as the visitors looked to earn a share of the spoils. But as Hajduk pressed they were undone in the 89th minute when Scocco netted from 12 yards to make it 3-1 to the home side.