MOL Vidi fell two goals behind after Szabolcs Huszti was dismissed midway through the first half of their Champions League play-off round first leg against AEK Athens and although the Greek champions were also reduced to ten men early in the second period and Danko Lazovic halved the deficit soon after, Marko Nikolic’s team were unable to equalise and therefore go into next week’s second leg in the Greek capital city 2-1 down, MLSZ reported.
Fresh from a 3-0 demolition of Budapest Honvéd in the Hungarian league last Saturday, Vidi lined up in a Christmas tree formation for this crucial match in the Groupama Aréna in Budapest, their temporary home in Europe from now until the completion of the new Sóstoi úti stadium, veteran Danko Lazovic spearheading the attack with Szabolcs Huszti and István Kovács providing support just behind him. The trio anchoring central midfield comprised Boban Nikolov and Loic Nego either side of Anel Hadzic and they shielded a flat back four of Stopira, Paulo Vinicius, Roland Juhász and Attila Fiola.
The ‘home’ team began purposefully and dominated possession in the early stages without ever threatening Vassilis Barkas’ goal, while at the other end Marko Livaja fired low but disappointingly wide of the near left post before A14 blazed the ball over the crossbar as the visitors struggled to find their range.
The game turned decisively in favour of the Greek champions in the 23rd minute though, when attacking midfielder Huszti was dismissed for what referee Gianluca Rocchi deemed to be a dangerous challenge on AEK forward Tasos Bakasetas with the sole of his boot over the top of the ball.
Lazovic was booked during the ensuing protests and Nego was lucky to get away with only a booking after a tackle from behind as tempers frayed. AEK then took full advantage of the one-man advantage in the 35th minute when Andre Simoes passed inside from the right channel to Bakasetas whose low shot was tipped onto the right post by Kovácsik, only for Klonaridis to race in and convert the rebound.
Remarkably, Vidi almost immediately fashioned a glorious chance to equalise, a long, inswinging cross from the left finding Fiola all alone at the far right post but the Hungarian international right-back, under no pressure, could only send a diving header straight at the keeper.
Back came AEK though and Viktor Klonaridis volleyed tamely into Kovácsik’s arms after cute, lofted through-pass by AEK captain Petros Mantolos before Stopira’s foul on the edge of the area presented AEK with another chance to score, Mantolos curling his right-footed free-kick just wide of the left post.
Bakasetas then spurned a difficult chance when he could only get his toes to a teasing left-wing cross and lob the ball up into Kovácsik’s grateful hands. Vidi really were on the rack and not even the half-time whistle could save them for long, Bakasetas’s speculative effort from the edge of the Vidi area deflecting past the wrongfooted Kovácsik and into the very right side of the goal four minutes into the second half.
Vidi needed something extraordinary to swing the game back in their favour and exactly that happened in the 53rd minute when goalscorer Bakasetas turned from hero to villain by producing a carbon copy of the foul which had been the undoing of Huszti in the first, the dangerous challenge on Nego yielding the same result here; a red card which levelled the sides at ten men each for the remaining 37 minutes of normal time.
Vidi took great heart from this unexpected change in fortunes, Stopira’s bouncing shot being well-gathered by Barkas before Lazovic pulled a goal back when he chested down Kovács’ long pass down the middle and disatched a low shot past Barkas when clean through one on one. Hadzic then went close to an equaliser with a skimming, first-time shot with his right foot 20 metres from goal before the 77th minute saw another incredible opportunity for the hosts to score when Fiola stuck out a leg five metres from goal, but he could only divert the ball wide of the right post with the goal at his mercy after Stopira’s half-volley from the left side of the area had been partially blocked.
That was it for Vidi in terms of chances created and despite a stirring partial recovery, Marko Nikolic’s team will see this as a missed opportunity to take a first-leg lead into the return match in Greece next Wednesday.
MOL Vidi FC 1-2 AEK Athens (HT: 0-1)
Goalscorers: VID: Lazovic 67′, AEK: Klonaridis 34′, Bakasetas 49′.
Source: mlsz.hu – press release