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By ESPN Staff

AEK coach Ferrer hails keeper Sorrentino

ATHENS, November 22 (Reuters) - AEK Athens coach Lorenzo Serra Ferrer was the master of understatement when asked about goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino's contribution to a dramatic 1-0 win over AC Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday.

The Spaniard simply smiled through his moustache and told reporters: 'Sorrentino solved a lot of problems'.

No waxing eulogy then in praise of an outstanding performance which, together with Julio Cesar's 33rd minute strike, has put AEK on the brink of reaching the last 16.

Perhaps it was fitting for while Sorrentino drove Milan's strikeforce of Filippo Inzaghi, Kaka and Ricardo Oliveira to distraction, his performance was a lesson in understatement in its own right.

There is little flamboyance about Sorrentino's goalkeeping but plenty of workmanlike efficiency.

Maybe that is one of the reasons the 27-year-old Italian never quite cracked it at home in Serie A.

Sorrentino started his career with Lazio before moving to Juventus in 1997 but had to wait until the 1998/99 season to make his competitive debut with Torino Calcio in Serie B.

After loan spells at Juve Stabia and Serie C1 Varese Calcio, he returned to Torino and played 12 Serie A games in two seasons before becoming a regular after their relegation in 2003.

Two years later he switched to Athens and, despite some unrest in the summer when he appeared to be heading back to Italy, has become a crucial element in the team that is starting to turn heads.

In the Champions League his cool, understated brand of goalkeeping has provided tremendous calm in the defence although they had to do without him for the third qualifying round, second leg game with Hearts after he was injured in a car crash.

'We had the chance to write our names in history -- and we did it,' said Sorrentino after Tuesday night's game saw the Olympic Stadium ablaze with flags and flares.

The next page may be more difficult to write but Sorrentino and his team mates know if they beat Anderlecht in their final group game they will be into the last 16 for the first time.