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Tragedy for Greeks in UEFA Cup

August 29, 2008 13:55 IST

Cyprus inflicted more soccer pain on neighbours Greece on Thursday when Omonia Nicosia knocked out AEK Athens in the UEFA Cup second qualifying round.

Fellow Cypriots APOEL, also from Nicosia, emulated Omonia by eliminating former European champions Red Star Belgrade on the away goals rule in a remarkable match in the Serbian capital that finished 5-5 on aggregate.

Omonia, who won 1-0 in Athens two weeks ago, drew 2-2 at home against nine men to triumph 3-2 on aggregate and reach the first round proper.

Cyprus had already enjoyed a famous victory over Greek rivals on Wednesday when Anorthosis Famagusta became the first Cypriot club to reach the Champions League group stage after eliminating Olympiakos in the third qualifying round.

Aris Salonika made it a worse night for Greece when they let unheralded Croatian side Slaven shrug off a 1-0 first leg defeat to win through 2-1 on aggregate.

Red Star, who had drawn the first leg 2-2 away, fought back from a two-goal deficit in the second half to take the second leg in Belgrade into extra time.

They went ahead with a penalty conceded by APOEL keeper Dionisis Chiotis, who was sent off, and converted by Nedad Milijas but Serbian striker Nenad Mirosavljevic, formerly with Red Star's arch enemies Partizan, equalised in the 117th minute to send 10-man APOEL through.

English Premier League side Manchester City almost suffered a similarly embarrassing exit before beating Denmark's Midtjylland on penalties.

Big spending City, owned by former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, lost 1-0 at home in the first leg and only pushed the second leg into extra time with a very late own goal from Danny Califf.

Mark Hughes' side, who were fortunate not to concede, prevailed 4-2 on penalties after a dull extra time with goalkeeper Joe Hart saving two spot kicks in the shootout.

In a one-off game, Austria Vienna beat Georgia's WIT 2-0 at home to go through. UEFA decided the tie would be played in one match after the first leg was cancelled due to the political unrest in Georgia.

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