Hearts 1 AEK 2

Last updated : 09 August 2006 By jamboJim

Mikoliunas celebrates
Hearts' Champions League hopes hang by a thread after they lost two late goals to AEK Athens at Murrayfield. Pantelis Kapetonas headed an 89th minute equaliser after 10-man Hearts looked like stealing an unlikely win and then Nikos Liberopoulos scored in injury time with a deflected shot. The Hearts side were outclassed but a 62nd minute goal from Lithuanian midfielder Saulius Mikoliunas gave them the lead before Bruno Aguiar was sent off four minutes later after picking up two bookings. Hearts were hit by a 'flu bug before kick-off with both Julien Brellier and Deividas Cesnauskis ruled out.

There was a let-off for the home side after only three minutes when Steven Pressley headed a Julio Cesar corner against his own crossbar. Liberopoulos then came close with a shot from just outside the area which was just a yard too high. But Hearts responded and a left-foot shot from Mikoliunas took a deflection and hit the outside of the post with Stefano Sorrentino beaten. Takis Fyssas then raced clear on the left and his cross found Mikoliunas but the Lithuanian rushed his effort and it finished well over the top. Vladimir Ivic tested Craig Gordon for the first time with a long-range effort midway through the first half which the goalkeeper dealt with comfortably. Liberopoulos showed his menace again when he cracked in a 19-yard shot which bounced in front of Gordon but skipped wide. AEK came close again nine minutes from the break when Michal Pospisil headed against the outside of his post from another Julio Cesar corner. A fingertip save from Gordon then denied the quick-thinking Julio Cesar after Pressley had given the ball away.

Kaperanos makes it hard for Hearts
Liberopoulos came close against eight minutes into the second half when his deflected shot beat Gordon but the ball flashed inches over. Bruno Aguiar had a chance after 59 minutes but Mikoliunas obstructed him and he could only hook the ball wide. Mikoliunas made amends when he scored three minutes later when he shot home from six yards after a Roman Bednar shot had come off the post. Hearts were reduced to ten men after 66 minutes when Aguiar picked up his second booking for preventing AEK taking a quick free-kick. Hearts were on the ropes in the closing minutes and Kapetonas finally scored with a header before Liberopoulos hit the winner with a shot which deflected off Christophe Berra.

Hearts: Gordon, Neilson, Fyssas, Berra, Pressley, McCann, Mikoliunas, Aguiar, Karipidis, Bednar, Pospisil
Subs: Banks, Jankauskas, Beslija, Makela, Elliot, Wallace, Mole

AEK Athens: Sorrentino, Pautasso, Dellas, Cirillo, Georgeas, Emerson, Ivic, Koutroumanos, Julio Cesar, Liberopoulos, Kapetanos
Subs: Chiotis, Papaststhopoulos, Tziortziopoulos, Evangelos Moras, Evangelos Moras, Soares, Lakis, Tozser

Referee: Nicolai Vollquartz (Denmark)

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