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Greek Cup final to limit fans over crowd violence fears

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) The Greek Cup final between champion PAOK Thessaloniki and AEK Athens on Saturday will be played in front of a limited number of invited fans due to fears of crowd violence.

No tickets will be sold for the match at the Olympic Stadium in Athens and Sports Minister Giorgos Vassiliadis said Monday’s decision follows police information that fans of both teams – and of other teams – were planning trouble on the sidelines.

PAOK and AEK have met in the past two finals with the 2017 game marred by extensive clashes in the stands.

Violence still plagues Greek soccer, despite repeated pledges by successive governments to impose order.

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Olympiakos’ Fortounis gets ban for obscene celebration

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ATHENS, Greece (AP) Olympiakos midfielder Kostas Fortounis has been handed a one-match ban in the Greek league as punishment for an obscene goal celebration during a game this month.

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Fortounis will miss this weekend’s match against OFI on the island of Crete after the penalty was announced Wednesday.

The 26-year-old Greece international mouthed obscenities toward opposing fans after scoring against AEK Athens on Oct. 7 during a 1-1 draw. He later apologized for the incident.

PAOK currently leads the Greek league standings with 16 points from six matches, level with Atromitos. AEK and Olympiakos follow with 13 points.

UCL roundup: Ajax advances with goalless draw and more

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Although Ajax managed to make its way through to the UEFA Champions League group stage with relative ease, Tuesday’s two other fixtures had quite the drama to determine the other clubs that will join the Dutch side.

[ MORE: Lampard’s Derby County cruise, while Cardiff, Huddersfield eliminated ]

Ajax finished scoreless against Dynamo Kiev on the afternoon, after winning the first leg 3-1 in Amsterdam. The Dutch giants have reached the UCL knockout phase in each of the last eight seasons.

An early second-half penalty kick gave AEK Athens a lead over Vidi, and a 1-1 draw was good enough to see the Greek side through 3-2 on aggregate to the UCL group stage.

A late red card from Hélder Lopes made for a dangerous final 10 minutes for the hosts, but Athens managed to see out the result to progress in the competition.

Meanwhile, Young Boys received a stellar performance from Guillaume Hoarau in the second half of their match to top Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 (3-2 on aggregate) in order to advance.

Zagreb led after just seven minutes when Izet Hajrovic broke the deadlock in front of the home supporters, however, the Croatian side couldn’t hold off their Swiss counterparts.

Tuesday’s UCL results

AEK Athens 1-1 (3-2 on agg.) Vidi
Dinamo Zagreb 1-2 (2-3 on agg.) Young Boys
Dynamo Kiev 0-0 (1-3 on agg.) Ajax

UCL playoff preview: Ajax, Benfica, PSV looking for group stage spot

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The Champions League is nearly back to the apex of its competition, as the final playoff round gets set for its finale and the group stage looks for its final participants. There are only six spaces left among the group stage participants, and some big-name clubs will take the field for their matchup’s second leg.

Dutch giants Ajax are in a solid position, up 3-1 over Dynamo Kiev after the home leg and now hit the road to Ukraine hoping to wrap things up on Tuesday. They have been scoring at will of late, coming off a 5-0 demolition of Eredivisie minnows FC Emmen. They have scored 20 goals over their last eight matches across all competitions, with 35-year-old Klass-Jan Huntelaar owning six of those and former Southampton man Dusan Tadic owning five.

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Kiev, meanwhile, has been quite the opposite. Through five matches in Ukranian Premier League play, Kiev has scored just five goals, but has conceded just one, sitting third in the league table with 13 points, although they have a game in hand on those above them and remain the only unbeaten team remaining in league play.

Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb and Swiss champs Young Boys are both level at 1-1 heading to the second leg in Zagreb. The home side will hope for a better start than in the first leg, when Young Boys grabbed the opener just two minutes into the match.

Also on Tuesday, Greek side AEK Athens takes a 2-1 lead back home over Hungarian club MOL Vidi.

On Wednesday, another Dutch club looks to seal up a lead, as PSV Eindhoven returns home with a 3-2 advantage over Belarusian club BATE Borisov in tow. They led 2-1 late in the first leg, and the game finished wildly as BATE equalized in the 88th minute before PSV retook the lead just a minute later. The three away goals are all massive, as is coming home with a lead of any kind. PSV has participated in the Champions League group stage in two of the last three seasons, reaching the knockout stage in 2015/16.

Portuguese giants Benfica sit in a precarious position, heading out on the road to visit Greek side PAOK with that matchup level at 1-1. Benfica held a lead on a goal just before halftime, but they conceded a scrappy away goal in the 76th minute on a set-piece.

Finally, Red Bull Salzburg hosts Red Star Belgrade after a 0-0 first leg in Serbia.

Champions League wrap: Tadic keeps Ajax rolling

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Three more playoff round first legs took focus in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, and it was another good day for two of three road teams.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s UCL wrap ]

Ajax 3-1 Dynamo Kiev

The Dutch hosts built a 3-1 halftime lead on goals by Donny van de Beek, Hakim Ziyech, and red-hot ex-Southampton attacker Dusan Tadic.

Tadic now has four goals and three assists in seven appearances this season.

Dynamo will find some comfort in the 16th minute away goal from Tomasz Kedziora.

MOL Vidi 1-2 AEK Athens

A 23rd minute red card had the Hungarian hosts down to 10-men, and both Viktor Klonaridis and Tasos Bakasetos scored before the latter took a red of his own in the 53rd.

The artists formerly known as Videoton pulled one back through Danko Lazovic in the 68th minute.

Young Boys 1-1 Dinamo Zagreb

Ex-Newcastle and Watford man Kevin Mbabu scored a second minute goal for the Swiss side, though Mislav Orsic answered for the visitors just before halftime.