AIK see off Europa at the Victoria

A second-half goal from Eero Markkanen was enough to see AIK beat Europa FC 1-0 on the night and 2-0 on aggregate at the Victoria Stadium.

The Swedish side were followed by a strong contingent of fans; not quite at the level of Celtic in the Champions League last week but just as passionate as their Scottish counterparts were.

The early stages of the game, perhaps as expected, were cagey as both teams worked their way into a game not aided by the July heat. Roldan had the first chance of the game though; after a cross from Garcia his shot was comfortably saved by Patrik Carlgren in the Swedish sides goal. It was a positive sign though as Europa went forward looking for the goal to level the tie.

The home side piled the pressure on as Carrion fired over at the near post from a corner. The halfway stage of the game was met by an enforced water break by referee Adam Fakras, with UEFA’s ruling of the mandatory stop in play should the temperature be over a certain level coming into play.

After the mini-break, Europa continued to play the better football and this time it was Quillo who had a chance to score, Carlgren kept busy as he made sure that AIK only conceded a corner. Much like the weather, tempers threatened to reach boiling point after Europa took their time returning a ball that had been put out of play after Quillo picked up a knock.

With only strong words shared though, the referee had no need to do anything other than calm down the relevant players, but for Quillo his game would soon reach an unfortunate end as his injury saw him replaced by Joselinho in midfield. AIK keeper Carlgren was the next to need treatment after he came off badly stopping Carrion from potentially opening the scoring. The tempo of the game was being broken up by these injuries, which was not helping Europa as the game edged towards half-time.

At half time, AIK took off Affane to be replaced by Swedish international and former LA Galaxy attackin midfielder Ishizaki. It seemed though that even this early in the second half, AIK were looking to manage the time to try and see themselves through, as Nils-Eric Johansson booted a ball almost out of the ground after it had gone out for an AIK goal kick. It was the Swedes who nearly opened the scoring though as an ambitious effort from Blomberg almost caught Munoz, practically a spectator at times, out.

They did take the lead soon after though after breaking away on the counter. In the end Markkanen, formerly of Real Madrid’s B team, had an easy finish and the game looked out of Europa’s reach all of a sudden. Carrion picked up a booking in the aftermath of the goal, presumably for protesting after he had gone down injured before the goal and the away side, who were well within their rights to keep playing, didn’t put the ball out of play.

The referee, Fakras, quickly becoming unpopular with fans and players of Europa, limped off injured midway through the second half and had to be replaced by fourth official Jozsef Erdos, as this stoppage also doubled up as the second mandatory water break of the game. This also saw Europa bring on Copi, who earlier in day found himself the subject of an internal club investigation for comments he posted on Facebook, and the former Balona striker did not get a warm reception from his own crowd.

Much like the first half, the game started to boil over and this time goalscorer Markkanen, as well as Ivan Moya for Europa, received a booking each for an off the ball incident. AIK almost killed the game off entirely with 15 minutes to go but Munoz, who left himself a lot of work to do with his starting position, did excellently to tip a Blomberg free kick on to the post.

With the game crawling to a conclusion, there was time for AIK to make one last sub; Kpozo replacing Vaisanen as the Swedes ensured their progression to the Europa League Third Qualifying Round, and a tie against Greek side Panathanaikos.

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