ΑΕΚ Larnaca will face English Premier League heavyweight West Ham United after advancing to the UEFA Conference League last 16 for the first time in its history.
Following a goalless draw with Ukraine’s Dnipro1 in the play-off second leg in Kosice Slovakia on Thursday, the Larnaca team signed another great night for Cypriot football, winning 1-0 on aggregate.
The game was played in Slovakia, as the Ukrainian team could not play at home due to the ongoing war.
AEK is only the second Cypriot football team to progress to a second knock-out round of a major UEFA competition and the first in the final 16 of the UEFA Conference League.
Previously, APOEL had reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League (2011-2012) and the round of 16 of the Europa League (2016-2017).
The Nicosia team also reached the round of 32 of the Europa League in 2019-2020.
AEK secured a spot in the last 16 draw with a first leg 1-0 win by a late goal (84′) from striker Angel Garcia at home.
On Thursday night, AEK made their intentions clear from the kick-off.
They maintained their concentration throughout the game, playing with a winning attitude and not leaving room for Dnipro’s attackers to create chances.
Dnipro only managed to create one chance in the first half, when forward Joao Peglow shot hit goalkeeper Kenan Piric’s post.
The Larnaca team launched their European campaign in the second qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League, where they lost in a penalty shootout to Danish Midtjylland.
AEK was demoted to the third qualifying round of the UEFA Europa League, where they kicked out FK Partizan Belgrade with an aggregate 4-3 victory.
They went to the play-off round of the tournament, where they faced Dnipro 1, whom they easily knocked out 5-1 on aggregate.
Following their first win over Dnipro, AEK made their way to the competition’s group stage, finishing third but earning a ticket to the last 32 of the Conference League.
Fate had it that the Larnaca team would face Dnipro again, with AEK winning another qualification over the Ukrainian side.
AEK’s Conference League journey has generated another €600,000, taking total earnings for the club’s European campaign to €5.75 mln.
AEK will host West Ham on 9 March and then travel to London on 16 March.